Dominick Cruz still has issues with Henry Cejudo.
At UFC 288 this past weekend (May 6, 2023), the former two-division UFC titleholder ended a three-year hiatus, attempting to reclaim one of the two titles he parted ways with in 2020. Cejudo retired in the Octagon on that fateful mid-pandemic night in May 2020, defeating Cruz via a second round technical knockout (knee and punches) directly before.
Going off to start a family in the meantime, “Triple C’s” desire to chase greatness was rekindled through coaching and his continuous attention to the sport. Others like Cruz, however, kept busy in the Octagon at Bantamweight rather than sitting out to come back for an immediate title shot against the new champion, Aljamain Sterling.
“He left the room to get a rest while we all kept working,” Cruz told Brendan Schaub. “Then he came back what? Two years later? With nothing, no injury, there was no reason to leave. It was just, ‘I’m going to leave because I’m the best.’
“The bottom line is you stepped out while we kept working and then you come back after we’re a little bit wore out and tired?” he continued. “Like, I fought three fights. You had no reason to leave. So, the way I see it is you left the competition pool to relieve yourself of duty. It was too much for you. The pressure. Definitely b—ch move. B—ch move. I don’t respect that as a championship mindset, but I don’t like that ... dude, keep fighting.”
Unfortunately for Cejudo, his return bout didn’t go his way despite his best efforts. Sterling earned his third consecutive title defense, scoring the split decision in a highly-competitive affair (full recap here). As interesting as a potential Cejudo vs. Cruz rematch could be, Merab Dvalishvili has now found himself in the sights of the Olympic gold medalist.