Dominick Cruz won the bantamweight world title in March 2010 by stopping Brian Bowles at WEC 47. He defended it four times before being sidelined for nearly three years with knee injuries. He was stripped of the title due to inactivity.
He returned to action in 2014 with a Performance of the Night knockout only to be sidelined again with a knee injury that kept him out of action for 2015. In January 2016, Cruz recaptured the title he never lost by defeating TJ Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 81.
He defended the UFC 135-pound title at UFC 199, but was defeated by Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Garbrandt and Dillashaw were cast to coach The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption and the former teammates will fight at UFC 213 in July.
“I’d like to come back and fight for the title. That’s my goal,” said Cruz while on The MMA Hour earlier this week. “I wasn’t completely out of that fight (with Dillashaw). Come the fifth round, I was still in the fight. I was in the fight the entire time, so I definitely want to get another shot at that. That’s what I’m focused on more than anything is fighting the winner of Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw. That’s what I want. I think that’s what the fans want.”
According to Cruz, there are only three fighters in the 135-pound division that are relevant. “There’s three people in this division that people know and it’s me, TJ, and Cody,” he said.
“That’s a fight that makes sense to me. It doesn’t make sense to me to go down in the division. I’m the number one contender now. To fight backward in the division after the amount of title defenses I’ve had in the past, it doesn’t resonate or make sense to me,” said the former champion. “I’m here to fight the best in the world, to fight for the title, and I think that I’ve earned that position.”
Cruz lost to Garbrandt and holds a win over Dillashaw. He doesn’t care which one he faces next, but believes he should fight the winner of the two.
“If I got to where I was completely not in that fight (with Garbrandt), I would understand. But I was in that fight from beginning to end. And in that fifth round, I’d even say that I won, so there’s still a case for me, and the match-up with Cody or TJ, either one of them.”