Former Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has sat back as quietly as possible as T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt sorted out their differences in the form of two knockout victories for Dillashaw at UFC 217 and this past weekend’s UFC 227.
A familiar foe for the current bantamweight champion, Cruz (22-2) actually holds a close decision victory over Dillashaw during the apex of Cruz’s title reign in 2016. For that reason, amongst others, the former champion is ready to reclaim his title against Dillashaw.
“I know I deserve that title shot,” Cruz told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, “because I defended that title more times than anyone in the history of the division. The problem is, I beat him already. You can’t be the best unless you beat the guy that beat you. It’s just common sense. Everybody in the world knows that, including him.”
Cruz is certainly high on the list for Dillashaw’s next opponent, but he is throwing his hat into a ring suddenly crowded with challengers. Former World Series of Fighting Marlon Moraes has quickly made his presence felt in the UFC with devastating first round-knockouts of Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera.
Cruz lost the belt after the Dillashaw fight against Garbrandt in what remains “No Love’s” finest moment to date. Garbrandt would go on to lose the belt in his fIrst defense against Dillashaw, who put the nail in the coffin in their rematch over the weekend with a first-round knockout. Newly-crowned flyweight champion Henry Cejudo has thrown his name in the mix for a bantamweight title shot as well, so Cruz will have to navigate his way to an immediate title shot despite not having fought since losing to Garbrandt back in Dec. 2016.