This past August, Cruz headlined UFC San Diego opposite surging contender Vera, with both men looking to stake their claim for a shot at the 135-pound gold. Prior to the contest, the veteran Californian had risen back toward contention with consecutive victories over Casey Kenney and Pedro Munhoz.
But against “Chito,” Cruz failed to make it three in a row. Despite looking on track to doing so through three rounds, the former titleholder was stopped in the fourth with a truly vicious head kick.
Given that he’s less than three years away from the age of 40, which often sounds more fatal in regards to a fighting career at the lower weights, and has been competing in the cage since 2005, the kind of KO that Cruz suffered at the hands of Vera unsurprisingly brought up questions surrounding his longevity.
But by the sounds of it, Cruz has more left in the tank.
Cruz Dismisses Talk Of Hanging Up His Gloves
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Cruz addressed his defeat for the first time and discussed what lies ahead for him.
In terms of the result itself, Cruz noted that his post-fight feeling was more one of disappointment than sadness. And having re-watched the fight and the finish, the bantamweight legend concluded that he simply got caught, as is often the case in a sport that can change in the blink of an eye.
“Sad isn’t the word. It’s disappointment. Obviously, the whole goal when you put in a 12-week camp is to win. When you don’t win, there’s disappointment. But sadness isn’t the term for me,” Cruz said.
“You’ve got to reassess everything… I can’t change anything. My hand was even up when I got caught, so I was even defending myself. But this is a game of inches… We’re always an inch away from one strike landing,” Cruz continued. “I hit him and I was winning for three rounds, and I could’ve dropped him any of those times, he could’ve dropped me. It happened when it happened.”
With that in mind, Cruz isn’t looking at the loss as any sort of signal that his time in the Octagon may be up. Given how the first three rounds went, the UFC vet is confident that he’s still competing at the level required to contend.
“I’m here, yeah… Right now, it’s been a month and a half, I’m running again, lifting, getting the body strong… I’m still top 10 level,” Cruz said. “I don’t look at myself after that loss and go, ‘I’m not there anymore.’ I do the opposite. I go, ‘Alright, speed’s still there, power’s still there; all this stuff’s still there. We just gotta tighten up some defense.’
“There’s a point where you’re gonna stack up too many losses ’cause you’re just not there anymore. I don’t look at my last fight and go, ‘Ah, you’re not at the level, these guys are outclassing you.’ It wasn’t really that. So, take my team, fix the fundamentals, and take it a day at a time… Just train and love training.”
While he doesn’t have a particular opponent or return date in mind, it appears certain that we haven’t seen Cruz’s unique and once-revolutionary style in action inside the Octagon for the last time.
How many more fights do you think Dominick Cruz has left in the tank?
Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.