It’s not quite how the aftermath of a fight is supposed to go. The contender climbs the mountain, wins the belt, and looks on to new challenges, leaving the former champ to search for his own path back to glory. That’s what’s supposed to happen. The newly crowned champ isn’t supposed to want a rematch with the guy he just beat.
"You know what, I had so much fun in there, Dom's been arguably the best bantamweght in the world, let's run that s*** back again," Garbrandt told MMA Fighting. "Let's give him an immediate rematch and he can go on to the next chapter of his career. I'd like to give Dominick Cruz a rematch. Ultimately, it's up to the UFC, but I'm the champion. I'm the baddeset dude in the division, so ultimately, I call the shots."
And while that’s Garbrandt’s take on it, Cruz thinks there are other reasons behind it. The former bantamweight champ co-hosted TMZ Sports this week, where he gave his thoughts on Grabrandt’s unusual callout (transcript via MMA Fighting):
“I expect him to be mad at me from that camp. I embarrassed him pretty good leading up to it with the things that I said which where the honest truth and he proved they were the truth by getting mad. But more than anything he keeps saying, ‘I’m at the top’ and ‘rematch, rematch.’ You’ve got the title. Why are you asking to rematch me?
“He knows that I am better than him. He wants the rematch because I’m the only fight that really raises the bar in this division.”
And Cruz may not be wrong (at least about raising the bar). Neither TJ Dillashaw’s nor Renan Barao’s title reigns, in-between Cruz’s time as champ, brought much interest to the belt or to the division. With Dillashaw as the most deserving current contender, it’s perhaps not so surprising that Garbrandt is looking for fights that spark more fan interest.
Of course, even Garbrandt has yet to prove himself as an A-side attraction for the UFC. And as we’ve seen with Tyron Woodley in the welterweight division, while he may want bigger fights, he’s likely to end up facing the more logical top contenders than a wish list of big money bouts.