Out of all the high-profile champions in mixed martial arts (MMA) today, Ultimate Fighitng Championship (UFC) Bantamweight king Dominick Cruz may be the most dominant one. Despite having years of his career ruined by knee and groin injuries, the 31-year-old has compiled a 22-1 professional record with three successful UFC title defenses and victories over the likes of Demetrious Johnson, Urijah Faber and former champion T.J. Dillashaw.
Needless to say, Cruz is the best 135-pound fighter in the history of the sport. But no matter how prolific "The Dominator" becomes, he believes the rest of the division is incapable of following suit.
"What it comes down to is understanding that coming back and doing what I did kind of pissed everybody off I think more than anything," said Cruz in a recent interview with MMA Junkie. "You never heard any of these guys calling out any other 135-pounder in the history of the division. Much less, where were these guys talking while I was out? That's the way I view this situation. I go, ‘Who was the last person to get called out at 135 pounds while I was injured the past four years analyzing on FOX?'
"I was begging for these guys to talk to each other so we could build a division even while I was hurt. They wouldn't do it. Now I come back, I beat these guys up, and now everyone has something to say, everyone has an idea. I'm scared of everybody all of a sudden. I'm running from everybody all of a sudden. Everybody can knock me out, but nobody could knock out the other guys while I was gone. It's just ironic. It's weird how things work. I basically taught everybody to grow a pair and start running their mouth is what happened."
Cruz is most likely talking about this guy, but he's got a point about the entire roster. Few guys were able to step up and promote themselves while Cruz was riding the pine from 2011-2014, which did little to help the division escape the shadow of more prominent MMA weight classes.
"I'm here to clean out the division," added Cruz. "All these guys want to talk, but I don't think any of them can hang with me. None of them. If I can't clean out the division, then I want a big fight and try to bring the belts together at 145 possibly."
With title contenders such as Dillashaw, Bryan Caraway, John Lineker, Cody Garbrandt and even John Dodson in his way, Cruz may have his hands full before a move up to Featherweight becomes a logical option.