Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has an opportunity to recapture his 135-pound crown by turning away reigning division kingpin Henry Cejudo at the upcoming UFC 249 pay-per-view (PPV) event this Sat. night (May 9, 2020) on ESPN+ from inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Despite taking the bout on short notice, thanks to the visa issues Jose Aldo is experiencing down in Brazil, Cruz expects Cejudo to be a less difficult fight than his UFC Fight Night 81 main event — and unanimous decision victory — against TJ Dillashaw back in early 2016.
“I think the win over T.J. would mean more because T.J Dillashaw is a true bantamweight, and Henry is still a [125-er,] so realistically this isn’t gonna be as tough of a fight as T.J., I know that,” Cruz said on the UFC 249 media conference call (via Sherdog.com). “I do respect what Henry’s done as a martial artist. You can’t take that away. But I do believe that T.J. is a true 135-er and that Henry is a true 125-er. He’ll go back down to his division after I beat him.”
That may explain why Dillashaw faltered in his one-and-only trip to flyweight.
The oft-injured Cruz, 34, has not competed since his unanimous decision loss to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 more than three years back. No question “ring rust” will be a factor but it should also be noted that the surgically-repaired Cejudo has been benched for nearly a year, as well.
It will be interesting to see if the promotion honors the title shot it previously gave to Aldo or considers another top contender like Petr Yan or the winner of Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen, who are in discussions to compete on June 6 in Las Vegas.