Former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick ‘The Dominator’ Cruz returned to the Octagon for the first time in four years last night at UFC 249 in Jacksonville, to tackle current undisputed kingpin, Henry ‘Triple C’ Cejudo. In a brutal display of leg kicks and an eventual counter knee, Cejudo dropped Cruz with mere moments remaining in the second round – before closing the show with a barrage from the Alliance MMA trainee’s back.
With just ten seconds remaining in the frame, longtime referee, Keith Peterson had seen enough and stepped in to call the content – to the immediate dismay of Cruz. The Californian argued he had recovered from the counter knee which dropped him and pointed to the handful of seconds remaining in the second round. However, speaking with Megan Olivi after the co-main event, Cruz alleged that Peterson “smelled of alcohol and cigarettes“, before questioning if a competitor could veto a referee in exchange for a different official.
“Sometimes you get hit, you know?” Cruz explained. “I’ve been in those positions many, many times though, and you know I had seconds left in the round. I just think that sometimes – you know I just wish there was a way to keep these refs a little more responsible – guy (Keith Peterson) smelled like alcohol and cigarettes, so who knows what he was doing. I wish they drug-tested them (referees). I know Herb Dean is good. He’s one of the best refs. I immediately – when I saw that ref I was like, ‘Man, is there a way to veto a ref and get a new one?’ I wonder that.“
The defeat to Cejudo marked just the third time Cruz has been bested in his professional career, and the first such an occasion he had been finished by strikes. During his post-fight interview with UFC colour-commentator, Joe Rogan – Cruz, 35, admitted he was unsure as to what lay ahead for him in his career.