Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz has heard the requests all over social media regarding a bout against Jose Aldo, and he understands the interest in it. Fighting Aldo in 2022 could end up becoming more of a reality than a dream.
Speaking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Cruz discussed what is next for him following his win against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269. Looking to get back in the title picture, “The Dominator” is trying to find that one fight that can help him reach that goal.
Aldo, a former UFC Featherweight Champion, is a matchup that entices Cruz. It would be a fight between two dominant stars of their time.
“What I’m hearing most from people — I haven’t really made a decision, I haven’t talked to [UFC matchmaker Sean] Shelby or anything, but I’m hearing most that the old legacy fight that never happened between me and [Jose] Aldo is, like, right there,” Cruz said, via MMA Fighting. “And I think that that does it. I can completely understand that. I get how that’s an interesting fight for the world. To fight Aldo, it’s an honor.”
Fighting out of San Diego, Cruz made his MMA debut in 2005. A WEC Bantamweight Champion, Cruz defended the belt twice, the second time in the UFC against Scott Jorgensen in 2010 to also become the UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Injuries have halted his career at several points, but he has managed to come back and made the most of his opportunities. In 2011, he dealt with those injuries but came back in 2014, and in 2016 won back the bantamweight title from T.J. Dillashaw. After losing the belt to Cody Garbrandt that same year, Cruz went through more injury scares. Biding his time, he provided commentary for the UFC. After three years, Cruz replaced Aldo and faced Henry Cejudo for the bantamweight title in May 2020. He lost via TKO but has since gone on a two-fight win streak.
A 2001 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship bronze medalist, Aldo made his pro debut in 2004. After suffering the first loss of his career in his eighth fight, Aldo went on an impressive 18-fight win streak, becoming WEC and UFC Featherweight Champion in the process.
Defending the UFC belt seven times, Aldo’s streak finally came to an end in thirteen seconds in 2015 against Conor McGregor. Since that loss, Aldo has gone 6-5 in his last 11 fights. He struggled to return to his former glory at featherweight but has found new life at bantamweight. Losing to Marlon Moraes and Petr Yan, the latter for the bantamweight title, Aldo has since beaten Marlon Vera, Munhoz, and recently top contender Rob Font.
Cruz admires what Aldo has been able to do after suffering through adversity.
“Think of the things this dude’s done,” Cruz went on to say. “And he’s also been through the ups and downs of his career, and now made his way back in an extremely respectful form. So that fight, I understand how that can make sense. But I’m going to sit down and, you know, we’ve got to do the talks and see what happens. But you know me — I show up and I do my job, and I’m not a pick-and-chooser. Obviously people have been calling me out my whole career, people have been comparing me to other people my whole career.
“I’ve done a really good job of not allowing that to make my decisions for me on my own end, and I’m not going to start doing that now. So let’s just see where we go.”
Aldo is ranked third in the UFC’s bantamweight rankings and Cruz is ranked seventh. While interim champion Yan and Aljamain Sterling battle it out to determine who the undisputed champion is, a fight between Cruz and Aldo could not only satisfy fight fans but determine a new contender within the bantamweight division.