Las Vegas, NV — Former UFC and WEC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz returns to the octagon this weekend — and after all these years, the feeling is no different.
“Have you guys ever stepped off the edge of a cliff? Same thing. It doesn’t matter how many times you do it,” Cruz told media outlets including Cageside Press at this week’s UFC 269 media day. “Once you get to the edge of that cliff, your adrenaline shoots up, and it’s time to jump. That’s why I do this.”
This time out, the former champ is paired up with Pedro Munhoz, who Cruz holds in high regard. “Pedro is obviously one of the best in the world to me. He’s been in this game as long as me and Jose Aldo. Nothing but respect, the guy carries himself like a professional.” Cruz views Munhoz as a knockout artist, “and he’s a grappling finisher. To me, he’s a finisher. He’s always going for the finish one way or another.”
Having snapped a two-fight skid in his last outing, picking up a win over Casey Kenney last time out, Cruz could be back in the title conversation with a win on Saturday. But the ex-champ believes he should always be in that conversation.
“I think that any time I’m competing, you should be talking about me as a title contender,” Cruz stated. “I’m here to compete to be the best, I’m not here to just play around. I’m here to keep going up. That’s why I’m looking to climb the ladder, not anything else. Just move up in a forward direction, that’s it. Right up the mountain to the top.”
As to the hoopla surrounding Cruz being on the prelims this week, while a fighter with lesser accolades like Sean O’Malley fights on the UFC 269 main card, “The Dominator” downplayed the issue.
“I’ve never compared myself to other people. It’s important that you don’t do so, that would be a judgment realistically on myself and everybody else. And if you start comparing, you start messing with yourself. Realistically, I get paid the same regardless of where I am on the card. So I’m getting good money to do less promotion, and less headaches, and I get done earlier.”
Watch the full UFC 269 media day scrum with Dominick Cruz above. The event takes place this Saturday, December 11 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. More coverage from the event can be found below.