The legendary former UFC bantamweight champion of the world has made it clear that he isn’t buying TJ Dillashaw as the number-1 at the weight-class.
A lot has changed for ‘The Dominator’ in the time since. At UFC 207, he – along with the rest of us – was left shocked when the up-and-comer Cody Garbrandt well and truly arrived with a surprisingly dominant showing, winning the belt in what will be remembered as an all-time great title-performance.
Of course, Cody would go on to lose his belt in brutal fashion to Dillashaw before being TKO’d once again in last weekend’s rematch at UFC 227.
And while Garbrandt’s suspect chin and fight IQ were certainly exposed to a degree, TJ managed to look as impressive as ever in dispatching his former team-mate.
Joining the man himself on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show this week, Cruz made it clear that he has a shot at his former-conquest and the 135lb belt on his mind.
“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.
“I know I deserve that title shot. Because I defended that title more times than anyone in the history of the division.
“It’s good that he’s hyping himself up to think that. It is. That’s what you’re supposed to be thinking. But I’m still right here, very relevant, regardless of the multiple injuries that I’ve had in my career.
“I think everybody in the world knows that I’m still extremely relevant, probably the only guy who will beat him in this division.”
Their first matchup was one of the most technically outstanding showdowns we’ve ever seen inside the octagon and though it was Cruz who got the nod, it was about as close to a draw as you could ever imagine.
The question now is who has improved their game more in the time since.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena