One of the things that stood out to me while working on the latest “Beef Wars” episode about Dominick Cruz vs. Team Alpha Male (watch it), was Dom’s insistence that you’ll never learn from your mistakes if you’re unwilling to accept your part in any losses that occur in the cage. In his mind, that was why his career nemesis Urijah Faber wasn’t evolving ... Faber “always had excuses” for his losses and “refused to own up to them.”
Yet, here we are after UFC 249, and Cruz seems to be doing the exact thing he accused Faber of doing: not owning up to the fact that he got rocked badly in his Bantamweight title fight against Henry Cejudo. And it was his inability to stop Cejudo from landing unanswered shots to his head that led to the stoppage in their fight. Was referee Keith Peterson a bit early in stopping things? There’s certainly some debate to be had on that point, but instead of keeping his argument simple, “The Dominator” decided to drag things into the gutter by accusing Peterson of being a drunk.
“Did you feel like you were totally cognizant in getting to your feet at that moment?” Megan Olivi asked Cruz on the ESPN post-fight show.
“Totally cognizant? That’s hard to say, you’re rocked,” Cruz said. “Sometimes you get hit, you know? I’ve been in those positions many, many times and I had seconds in the round. And I just think that sometimes I wish there was a way to keep these refs a little bit more responsible, sometimes. Guy smelled like alcohol and cigarettes so who knows what he was doing.”
Cruz just called out Kieth Peterson for “smelling like alcohol and cigarettes” pic.twitter.com/Hks0RDGB6f— M͎M͎A͎ ͎G͎O͎D͎S͎ (@GodsMma) May 10, 2020
“Did he really?” Olivi asked.
“Definitely,” Dom said. “I wish we drug tested them. I know Herb Dean is good. He’s one of the best refs. I immediately, when I saw that ref, was like, ‘Man is there a way to veto a ref and get a new one?’ I wonder that. As fighters do we have that choice?”
“I’m not sure,” Olivi replied.
“Me neither,” Cruz said. “And I wish we did?”
Unfortunately for Cruz, fighters are only allowed to appeal a referee assignment before an event takes place, not on the night of after they pass a sniff test. So moving forward, Cruz can file requests with whatever commission he’s fighting for to keep Peterson from being the third man ... although it’s worth noting that commissions often ignore these requests if they think a fighter isn’t being reasonable.
For some reason we have our doubts they’ll accept Dom’s accusation that Peterson was drunk as reasonable. So he better start working on not ducking his head into massive knees from his opponents, which was the beginning of the end for him against Cejudo. We think that’ll serve his evolution more than complaining about Keith Peterson.