ESPN’s “Ariel Helwani MMA Show” this week turned into a bit of a showcase for a bunch of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight fighters eager to face reigning — and defending — division champion T.J. Dillashaw in his next fight. Raphael Assuncao made his case, as did new flyweight champ Henry Cejudo. But, no one did a better job than Dominick Cruz, whose position is bolstered by the win he already holds over Dillashaw.
”I’m still right there, very relevant regardless of the multiple injuries I’ve had over my career,” Cruz said. “I think everybody in the world knows I’m very relevant and probably the only guy in the world who would beat him in the division.
”Right now T.J. Dillashaw is speaking what he chooses to make relevant, which is trying to make his case as the best bantamweight,” he continued. “The problem is, I beat him already. You can’t be the best unless you beat the guy that beat you. It’s common sense, everyone in the world knows that including him. Let’s be honest: He does not want to deal with that right now, he would rather wait and see if he can get away from it.”
The unspoken way that Dillashaw would get away from it? Via Cruz retiring because of injuries. Unfortunately for Dillashaw, that doesn’t sound like it’s happening. In fact, Cruz sounds ready to return later this year.
“I feel 100 percent in training, I’ve been cleared for three weeks now,” he said. “I feel great and I’m looking for a fight toward the end of the fall, toward fall time.”
And he has the advantage of UFC wanting a Dillashaw vs. Cruz rematch.
”Of course they do, of course they do,” Cruz declared. “It’s just that TJ doesn’t want to take it, so they gotta play a game with TJ. Either way, if I fight someone before I fight TJ, I’m going to just take somebody out of the division before I get the belt anyway. So, it’s a win-win scenario for me. My point is to fight for the title ASAP because that’s why we do this, that’s what this is about. And I know I deserve a title shot because I defended that title more times than anybody in the division in the history of the division, period.”