UFC 207 wasn’t Dominick Cruz’ night. The usually dominant bantamweight champion found himself outclassed by a younger, perhaps hungrier lion in Ohio’s Cody Garbrandt.
Garbrandt, 25, used masterful head movement to slip most of ‘The Dominator’s’ strikes and land flush counters of his own. ‘No Love’ bloodied Cruz up and rocked him at several points throughout the bout, comfortably winning almost all of the exchanges.
Despite this, Cruz said he ‘enjoyed every second’ of the fight and showed true class in defeat at the post-fight press conference.
“I enjoyed every second of this fight,” Cruz said at UFC 207’s post-fight press conference, per Shaun Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting. “Look, I’ve been fighting the best guys in the world for the past 10 years, the top two in the world. I’ve been on the pound-for-pound list for a long time. Even when I was hurt with triple ACL reconstructive surgeries, there was a target on my back. I had to come back and fight through it. This was no different. This was just another fight that I had to challenge myself.”
Cruz, 31, hadn’t lost in almost ten years but didn’t hesitate to give the new champion props for his spectacular performance in the co-main event.
“It was good to be able to at least fight somebody with a good heart,” Cruz added. “I said what I want about the guy about his smarts or whatnot, but he does have a good heart. And that’s important. So, enjoy being at the top, Cody. You’re a young champion. Try to keep it. It’s tough. Let’s see what you do with it.”
The Alliance MMA fighter was also lucid and honest in his analysis of where things went wrong on the night.
“It was just the little things,” he said. “Like I was throwing empty kicks. I wasn’t setting them up as well, so that led him to counter better with his power instead of setting my kicks up better. That would’ve allowed me to close the range a little bit better instead of him pulling me into his power. There’s little adjustments I can make to make this a better fight, make it a little bit closer, make it a little bit more competitive to where I can win it. But tonight was his night.”
Although Cruz has been in the game for twelve years and recently suffered a series of career-threatening injuries, the Arizona native is determined to bounce back and reclaim his No. 1 spot.
“I’ve got to find a positive in this stuff because I did challenge myself very heavily,” Cruz continued. “There is nothing about this trek that I’ve taken since my comeback that has been easy. Not one fight. Not Faber, not Dillashaw especially, and definitely not Cody. So, what can you do, man? This is part of it, is losing. And part of life is losing. I think everybody can say, one time or another, maybe not in a fight, but you’ve felt like a loser. How do you come back from it? Let’s see. I know myself. I’ve lost before. It has been a long time, but I’m confident in my abilities. I’m confident in my mind. I’m confident at where I stand with everybody else in this division, and I know Cody’s good.”
Cruz walks away from defeat at UFC 207 with his confidence still intact and a professional record of 22-2. The ex-WEC and UFC champion is still one of the most elite fighters in the division and could bounce back even stronger next year.