Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz believes that in order to reach the top again, he’ll have to battle his own style, which he believes has become the norm in the division since he brought it to the Octagon over a decade ago.
Cruz is widely regarded as one of the greatest 135lbers of all time. Across a near-17-year career as a professional, “The Dominator” has achieved championship glory in both the WEC and the UFC, beaten the likes of Joseph Benavidez, Urijah Faber, Demetrious Johnson, and TJ Dillashaw, and experienced an eight-year unbeaten run that included 13 straight victories.
Despite going through a number of serious injuries and falling to Henry Cejudo last May after returning for the first time in nearly four years, Cruz’s desire to compete and be the best hasn’t faded away.
After re-entering the win column earlier this year with a decision success against Casey Kenney, the 36-year-old will look to climb further back towards the top when he faces fellow veteran Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269 this weekend.
Cruz Believes It’s Easier For Opponents To Prepare For His Style Now
During his prime, Cruz was untouchable. Up until a defeat to the then-undefeated Cody Garbrandt in 2016, nobody had cracked the code on how to defeat the Californian since 2008. Like many, the former two-time UFC titleholder put that down to his unique style.
However, Cruz doesn’t believe his techniques are as tough to deal with and as rare as they used to be. During an interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, “The Dominator” suggested his style has become “the norm” for most bantamweights in the current landscape, citing Cory Sandhagen as an example.
With that in mind, the #9-ranked contender believes it’s easier for his opponents to prepare for to face him than it ever used to be.
“You’ve gotta think, when I was champion of this division, everything that I was doing, kinda, even in the WEC, I was the first to bring stance switch, hands-down head movement, just a unique, artistic-looking style that people didn’t necessarily understand. That looks like the norm now in my division… Sandhagen fights that way, Demetrious Johnson fights that way, (Kyoji) Horiguchi fights that way; the list could go on of people that fight with their hands down, switching stance, using footwork, utilizing the entire Octagon to move and not be hit, to hit and not be hit, mixing in takedowns; these are all the norm now.
“So, with that being the norm, I don’t stand out so much. I do, but I don’t. My style is still mine, I’m not exactly like anybody, it’s not a linear, conventional style, of course, but it’s not as… there’s more guys to prepare these people that I’m fighting that can move like me for them than ever before because people have watched me be champion. I didn’t lose for a decade. People watched me… that’s just the normal now.”
Cruz will look to show that nobody puts his style on display quite like him when he enters the Octagon during this Saturday’s preliminary card. But Munhoz, a highly-touted contender who’s never quite reached the heights many tipped him to, will represent a stiff test, and will be hoping to bounce back from a defeat to another legend in José Aldo earlier this year.
Do you think Dominick Cruz will have his hand raised tomorrow night at UFC 269 against Pedro Munhoz?