Former two-time bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz was defeated by champion Henry Cejudo in the UFC 249 co-main event on Saturday, but “The Dominator” wasn’t happy with the referee stoppage.
Cruz was the first UFC bantamweight champion, but hadn’t fought since December 2016 due to injuries. His career has been plagued with injuries but he’s come back from long layoffs before to win back the title. Saturday was his return to the cage and his opportunity to pull off another championship comeback story.
Late in the second round, Cejudo connected with a perfectly timed knee as Cruz ducked in. Cruz fell to his back on the canvas and Cejudo went in for the finish. He delivered punches to Cruz’s head as Cruz scrambled to defend himself. After several unanswered blows, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight as Cruz was beginning to stand. He immediately questioned the stoppage.
During his post-fight interview with broadcaster Joe Rogan, Cruz was clearly upset as he stated his case.
“I’m not happy with the stoppage, obviously, because I specifically asked the ref to let me go until I was out and I was standing up. If I stayed on the floor, I get it, but I’m working my way up,” said Cruz following the fight.
“I was definitely still aware of what was going on. Now I get that there were unanswered shots. That’s part of a fight. If I’m standing up to my feet, I’m in the fight. If I’m staying on the floor and continuing to be chopped down, I’d get it.”
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Cruz gave credit to Cejudo for the win, but continued to voice his displeasure about the stoppage.
“Hats off to Henry. I’ve got no excuses. I shouldn’t have got caught with that knee the way that I got caught and that’s what put me in that position. But at the same time, I specifically asked the ref to make sure he let me take the shots that I needed to and if I’m staying up, on my way up, how do I have my balance? I’m getting up. Give me a fighting chance in that. This is for a world title. This isn’t some backyard fight,” said Cruz.
“I wanted to finish this fight. I’ve never been knocked out before. I don’t feel that I was knocked out tonight. I feel like I was still in this fight, but if the ref stopped it then the ref stopped it. I specifically made sure and told him I didn’t agree with the stoppage, which a lot of fighters do. My argument is, if I’m standing up to my feet, how am I knocked out? You can’t be standing up and be knocked out at the same time.”