Dominick Cruz has not forgotten about the performance of referee Keith Peterson during his championship fight against Henry Cejudo at UFC 249, and he is hoping to avoid a repeat of it on Saturday night.
Cruz returns to the Octagon for the first time since that second-round technical knockout loss to Cejudo and meets Casey Kenney at UFC 259. The loss to Cejudo is something that still bothers Cruz to this day because he is adamant the actions of Peterson before and during the fight cost him greatly.
Cruz has spoken about not wanting Peterson to serve as referee for the rest of his fights and has taken the steps to ensure that happens. During his pre-fight media day scrum with assembled media in Las Vegas, Cruz revealed that he has indeed requested to have anyone but Peterson as his referee against Kenney — or anyone else in the future.
“I made the request and you hope that the commission can honor your request but when it all comes down to it, they run things, right?” Said Cruz. “They have control over everything. Marc Ratner alluded that he was able to make that possible for me and it’s not that I hate this guy or anything. This is a a business thing and I did not feel like he was doing his job, so there’s plenty of refs. I’ve never had an issue with any other ref in the history of my career. Before the fight started, I had a situation with him in the locker room, so that’s what makes me stand by the fact that I’d prefer another ref.”
The pre-fight situation Cruz briefly mentioned was not elaborated on, but past comments from the former champion about Peterson allegedly smelling like “alcohol and cigarettes” on that night could be what he referred to.
Although Cruz has done all he can in asking for this request to be honored, he is unsure it happens so easily. The process is far greater than a simple “yes or no” and the decision ultimately lies with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, so Cruz is at their discretion. However, he is choosing to remain optimistic about the situation.
“There’s a lot of things in life that we don’t have control over,” said Cruz. “Pretty soon you’re gonna have to take a vaccine to travel — in a lot of people’s lives. We have no control over that either, so there’s a lot of things that are shifting in the world that we don’t have control over. You can just do your best to trust the process and surrender to the things you don’t have control over.
“When it comes to the commission, each commission is every single various state has their own set of rules. You can only reach out to each commission and hope that they hear you, but when it comes down to it, they run the show. As fighters, we don’t really have much we can do. They are a separate entity from USADA. They’re a separate entity from the UFC. They’re a separate entity from every other state [and] each commission. You just cross your fingers with each commission and their rules.”