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Cejudo says absence of ‘concrete No. 1 contender’ led to picking Cruz for UFC 249

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Henry Cejudo says he was left with no legitimate choice, which was why he ended up with Dominick Cruz as his first 135-pound title challenger.

5th Annual Sports Humanitarian Awards Presented By ESPN Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Henry Cejudo was originally scheduled to defend his bantamweight title against Jose Aldo at UFC 250. But after the former long-time featherweight champion was forced out of the contest, “Triple C” ended up signing for a fight against Dominick Cruz.

It was a questionable decision for many, given that Cruz has been out of action for nearly four years. But according to Cejudo, “The Dominator” has been his first choice all along, given the current crop of top contenders at 135 pounds.

“Dominick was my first choice, since the beginning I wanted to fight (him),” Cejudo said on Tuesday’s media conference call for UFC 249 (transcript by MMA Junkie). “I thought it was a great storyline – we’re both from Arizona, he’s a great champ, I beat the No. 1 contender Marlon Moraes, and there was really not a concrete No. 1 contender after I beat Moraes.

“My original plan was to fight him, but then I saw the fact that Jose Aldo did a good job with Marlon Moraes, who was the No. 1 contender,” he continued. “I went with Aldo, but I told Dominick, Dominick should stay on the lines because if anything happens, you’re the guy that I want next.

“And it just turned out to be that Jose Aldo couldn’t get a visa and that allowed Dominick Cruz to get back in. But he was always part of the plan and now we’re going to scrap.”

Fighters like Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan have been clamoring for their title shots, which have obviously fallen on deaf ears. Cejudo, however, isn’t forgetting about any of them.

“Wait for their chance, wait for the king to tell them to bend the knee,” he said. “Aljamain Sterling got knocked out by a guy that I knocked out, so wait in line. And Peter Yan needs to learn better English. He absolutely sucks and you can’t beat a 41-year-old and expect a title shot – that’s just ridiculous. I rather fight someone who hasn’t fight in four years.”

Cejudo and Cruz will co-headline Saturday’s event at the VyStar Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.