Dominick Cruz did not have the kind of return that many would have expected, however, the controversial stoppage did not hinder his huge return to the octagon. Cruz returned to the octagon after three years in a hugely anticipated bout against Henry Cejudo for the UFC Bantamweight Championship at UFC 249.
He suffered the first TKO loss of his career as he succumbed to a brutal knee, followed by a barrage of punches in the second round. Cejudo finished the fight with two seconds remaining in the second round. While fight fans continue to argue about the controversial stoppage, Dominick Cruz's return to the octagon after over three years lost the attention that it deserved amidst Cejudo's retirement and the main event between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
With everything said and done, what's next for Dominick Cruz?
Dominick Cruz is currently without an opponent
It's still unclear whether Dominick Cruz will compete again inside the octagon. He is currently ranked #11 in the UFC Bantamweight rankings, having lost both of his last two fights. However, both the losses have come in title bouts over credible opponents in the form of Henry Cejudo and Cody Garbrandt.
The problem still lies. Dominick Cruz is without an opponent, and the Bantamweight division is booked solid for the next few months. Cody Garbrandt, who many expected to face Petr Yan for the title, will go down to Flyweight to challenge Deiveson Figueiredo for the UFC Flyweight Championship. Dana White's comments on Aljamain Sterling after Garbrandt's win has also sent doubts on whether Sterling will face Petr Yan next. On the other hand, it was recently reported that Marlon Moraes will take on Cory Sandhagen next. With Pedro Munhoz expected to fight Frankie Edgar, and Jimmie Rivera and Cody Stamann coming off of recent losses, it's very difficult to determine the next ideal opponent for Dominick Cruz. John Dodson is expected to fight at UFC 252, and Jose Aldo is coming off a loss against Petr Yan at UFC 252.
“And I think if there’s a big name I can take out, why not shoot for the stars and see what we can get? I think everyone else is booked up, and I beat him, I’m right here for the title shot.” - Aljamain Sterling had said in 2018, calling out Dominick Cruz.
The UFC Bantamweight division has never looked better. If we look at the top 10 fighters in the division, most of them have a fight booked, while others fought in the recent past. However, Aljamain Sterling is without an opponent despite having won against Cory Sandhagen in what was being looked at as the #1 contender's match for the UFC Bantamweight Championship.
Should Dominick Cruz fight Aljamain Sterling next?
Aljamain Sterling has earned his position to fight for the title belt next. However, a match-up against Dominick Cruz is always special. It will be hard for even Dana White to give Sterling a title shot next if he can get past Dominick Cruz. It also gives a credible opponent for someone as talented as Cruz in his comeback fight after UFC 249. Sterling has called out Dominick Cruz in the past, and this could well be his chance to challenge one of the greatest Bantamweight fighters of all time.
There's an argument to be made that Aljamain Sterling should wait out until he gets the title opportunity against Petr Yan. However, with Dana White not looking very interested in the idea, and the return of Cody Garbrandt causing further problems, it's a difficult decision for Aljamain Sterling to make. Regardless, if there's an ideal opponent for Dominick Cruz right now, it's Aljamain Sterling. It also put Dominick Cruz back in the title picture.Published 08 Aug 2020, 19:07 IST