BOSTON — Dominick Cruz had only reclaimed the UFC bantamweight title for about a half hour Sunday night before being bombarded with questions about against whom he’ll defend his belt.
Cruz defeated TJ Dillashaw by split decision at UFC Fight Night Boston at TD Garden to take back the title that was stripped from him in 2014 because of injury.
While experts and fans already have their ideas of whom Cruz will fight next, neither the champ nor UFC president Dana White have a clue right now.
“I just won the belt. I’ve said this so many times, nothing really belongs to you, because right when you hold the belt up, Dana and (UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta), the media, everybody in the world has come up with three other matchups for you,” Cruz said. “People start yelling at you, that ‘there’s a target on your back’ and ‘he really didn’t win it,’ ‘I can do better.’
“I haven’t even got a pat on the back for the win and I’m already getting asked who I’m fighting next. It’s like, I’m here, just let me win. I’ll worry about who I’m fighting next when it comes. I don’t care right now. I just want to be here in the moment.”
White later responded to Cruz’s assertion that him and Lorenzo have ideas on what the next bantamweight title fight will be, saying, “I guarantee you we don’t.”
So where does that leave us?
Well, two potential matchups immediately come to mind. One is Cruz fighting Urijah Faber for a third time, and the other is a rematch with Dillashaw.
Cruz beat Faber in 2011 to win the UFC bantamweight title belt for the first time. It also should be noted Faber has been given five title shots since losing his WEC belt to Mike Brown and has lost them all, so he doesn’t really deserve another chance.
Dillashaw clearly is the top challenger in the division. He defended his title twice, and you could argue he should’ve beaten Cruz on Sunday night. It was a razor-close bout that could have been scored a victory for either fighter.
Cruz-Dillashaw II would be the best fight, and ultimately, that’s what the sport needs. UFC 200 in the summer would be a great venue for a rematch. A strong case could be made that Sunday’s bout should have been on pay-per-view, given the fact it was hyped as the biggest bantamweight fight in history. Cruz and Dillashaw deserve a larger stage, and as far as PPVs go, nothing will match UFC 200.
Of course, Cruz’s foot injury has to be taken into account. If it’s more serious than anticipated, that would complicate the process of scheduling the next bantamweight title fight.
“Let’s give it some time,” Cruz said of his next fight. “As for the injury, I’ll be fine. I’ve dealt with worse. I’ll be fine, let me get an MRI on my foot. I don’t think I tore it all the way, it just hurts real bad. I fought five rounds on it.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Jan 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; TJ Dillashaw (red) punches Dominick Cruz (blue) during a world bantamweight championship bout at UFC Fight Night at the TD Garden. Cruz won after five rounds by split decision. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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