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‘I’m looking to move up the division’ - Dominick Cruz responds to Sean O’Malley’s callout

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As a former champion, the ‘Dominator’ has long been one of the most persistently called out athletes in the bantamweight division. But he’s got his own career to think about when accepting a bout.

Dominick Cruz gets his hand raised after defeating Casey Kenney at UFC 259.
Dominick Cruz gets his hand raised after defeating Casey Kenney at UFC 259.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Sean O’Malley turned in another remarkable performance in the PPV opener of UFC 264. The 26-year-old MMA Lab talent dominated late replacement Kris Moutinho from bell to bell for the better part of three rounds, before referee Herb Dean finally decided to call an end to the thoroughly one-sided showcase.

After the bout, O’Malley took to the mic with a pro-wrestling styled promo, seemingly putting most of the top five at 135 lbs on notice.

“Cody Garbrandt hasn’t won a fight since 2012,” O’Malley yelled as Joe Rogan wrapped their post-fight interview. “Petr Yan is petrified. Dominick Cruz is ducking me. Fob Ront, where you at!?”

While Rob Font has yet to respond to O’Malley’s challenge, at least one of the men he called out seems interested in correcting the record. Namely, UFC commentator and former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Cruz answered O’Malley’s challenge during the UFC 264 post-fight show, with an explanation of just exactly why he’s not interested in taking the fight.

“I’ve been called out every weekend for about eight weeks so I’ve been dodging every person that’s been calling me out for eight weeks,” Cruz joked (transcript via MMA Fighting).

“I’m looking to move up the division just like everybody else is looking to move up the division. Respect to every athlete, I’m looking to go up just like everyone else.”

As for what going ‘up’ might mean in terms of his own interests in a next fight? It seems Rob Font is becoming a popular callout in his own right, with Cruz telling his broadcast partners that “if I want to call somebody out, Rob Font. There we go.”

Cruz is currently ranked no. 9 in the bantamweight division, with Font sitting in the no. 3 spot after a pair of decisive victories over Marlon Moraes and Cody Garbrandt. The New England Cartel fighter is no doubt looking for a shot at the bantamweight title sometime in the not too distant future. However, with Aljamain Sterling injured and Petr Yan likely waiting on a rematch – not to mention Cory Sandhagen’s aspriations – Font just might find himself in a position where he needs to fight again just to keep his status as a top contender solidified. And whenever he does step back in the cage, it sounds like he’ll have plenty of options for potential opponents.