In what will be his first fight since coughing up his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight title last December to Cody Garbrandt, Dominick Cruz will face 135-pound juggernaut Jimmie Rivera at the upcoming UFC 219 event on Dec. 30, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While “The Dominator” is just happy to get back into the swing of the things, the bout isn’t exactly what he initially wanted, as he was holding out for the chance to face the winner of Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 217 this November.
“I was wanting to wait for that title fight to come back around once those two fight (Garbrandt and Dillashaw), just jump right back in there and face the winner. It made sense because I have faced T.J. and everybody would want to see a rematch if he won, and I faced Cody and everybody would want to see that rematch if he won,” said Cruz during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour.
According to Cruz, in his conversation with UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby, he was informed that if he opted to wait, there was no guarantee he would get the next title shot, proving his point that neither he nor Cody is the king of the Bantamweight division.
“The simple fact is this. I posted the Rivera fight and people were shocked, like, ‘Why aren’t you fighting for the title.’ And it was really interesting to see that. What it comes down to is that, I am not the king of the Bantamweight division, Cody’s not the king of the bantamweight division, either, Sean Shelby is,” he added.
“He makes these decision as to who fights who. And he said, ‘If you don’t fight Jimmie Rivera, he will fight Assuncao and they would get the next title fight, not you.’ So he would probably end up giving me the loser of Cody, T.J” he added.
“Sean Shelby makes the decisions of the matchmaking in this division, so I listened, I have never picked a fight my whole career. I’ve never said this isn’t right, this isn’t that. this isn’t… I’m not here to complain. I enjoy fighting, I want to fight, so that’s what I am doing.”
As for his fight against Rivera, Cruz isn’t opposed to it, he just figured a rematch with Dillashaw or Garbrandt would be more appealing in the public’s eye given their name value, something Rivera doesn’t have at the moment.
Nevertheless, Cruz will likely get a title shot should he get the win over Rivera, who hasn’t tasted defeat in eight years. A loss, however, will send him tumbling down the rankings and the window to re-claim his title will close even further.
Of course, should Garbrandt or Dillashaw not make it to New York City on Nov. 4, Cruz will gladly step in to save the day.