Dominick Cruz is still bitter over his TKO loss to Henry Cejudo at UFC 249, maintaining that referee Keith Peterson stopped the fight too early in the second round.
Cruz had previously accused Peterson of smelling of ‘alcohol and cigarettes’ and, although he didn’t bring that up again, ‘The Dominator’ is adamant that Peterson is to blame for the loss.
“I believe Keith Peterson gave him (Henry Cejudo) a nice gift with that (stoppage),” Cruz told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani in a recent interview (h/t Low Kick MMA). “I was, you know — yeah I got hurt and I shouldn’t have put myself in that position but I was — if you talk to the refs, and you talk to anybody — you have a couple things you need to do in order to keep the fight going. You need to be defending yourself and you need to be working into a better position. I was doing both of those things when the fight got stopped.“
“You can’t be knocked out when you’re standing up on your feet while someone’s hanging on you — like I was okay. So it was hard for me to get stopped when it wasn’t — it was a premature stoppage 100%. I don’t believe I lost that fight, I believe Keith Peterson took that fight. Now I say that, in the midst of somebody who always takes responsibility for their losses. I lost to Cody Garbrandt. I think I probably won two out of five of those rounds against Cody, but he won three out of five, so I would say he won that fight. And I take responsibility for losing that fight (against Garbrandt). This fight (against Cejudo) was different — that’s what was tough about it.“
Cruz is trying to ensure Peterson doesn’t officiate his upcoming fight against Casey Kenney at UFC 259 as he claims the veteran ref is completely incompetent both inside and outside the octagon.
“I’m gonna definitely request — and I can only hope and pray that the commission honors my request to not have him (Keith Peterson) in my corner — or refereeing my fight,” Cruz told. “I can’t guarantee it, the commission does whatever they want and I respect them and their decisions, but I don’t believe he’s a competent ref with the way he treated my fight and the way he treated it before the fight happened.“
“The way that I saw him going through the rules in the back — I’ve never had a referee that I’ve had to say, ‘hold on, hold on, stop. Can you start all over again? I can’t understand anything you’re saying. And you’re not looking me in the eyes, are you here? Are you present?’ And I don’t know if he was nervous, or if he had something going on — but I never dealt with that. I’ve had twenty fights, twenty-five fights close to.“
UFC 259, which will feature Cruz vs. Kenney on the prelims, is scheduled to take place on March 6 at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas.