Cruz says he couldn't have returned sooner, despite Dana White's claims
NOV 21, 2013 1:14p ET
Despite what UFC president Dana White intimated last week, Dominick Cruz said he could not have come back from his knee surgery any sooner.
Cruz fights Renan Barao on Feb. 1 at UFC 169 in Newark, N.J., to unify the UFC bantamweight title. And Cruz said if he tried to get into the Octagon any earlier it would have been at great risk to his surgically repaired joint.
"I would have hurt my knee in training camp," Cruz said Wednesday at a media luncheon on Manhattan. "That's the whole point. That's when you retear your knee again."
White told reporters last week before UFC 167 in Las Vegas that Cruz 'possibly could have fought much sooner.'
"I shouldn't say this, but I will, because this is what I f***ing do to myself," White said. "I think that Cruz has kind of been stalling. I think Cruz has dragged this out longer than needed to be."
Cruz said that White didn't mean that the way it sounded; that White's quotes were misconstrued by the media.
"What he meant was: I'm ready," Cruz said. "Ring rust won't be an issue, because I'm taking the time needed to pursue that issue. My knee is strong, says the doctor and says me. That's what he's trying to get across, not what the media wants you to think, which is 'It's been so long, even Dana is upset about it."
Cruz said he learned while he was away not to believe everything he reads. There were a few reports out there that White said he would be stripped of the belt if he didn't come back at a certain date, Cruz said, so he went to White and White told him his words got twisted.
The same thing is happening in this case, Cruz said. White, he believes, was speaking about him taking his time in a positive way - not ripping him. And that very well might be the case, though 'stalling' is can easily be taken as a negative connotation.
"We made a date a long time ago," Cruz said of his return. "If he wanted me to come back earlier, he would have [made me] or he would have stripped me, right? It's not like I call the shots."
More than anything, Cruz is annoyed by the constant speculation about how his more than two years away from the Octagon will affect his performance against Barao and if he'll have ring rust.
"I'm just fed up with the questions about the time off," Cruz said. "At what point do you think about what I did before the time off and what I've done with the time off now?"
There's very little doubt that before he had to undergo two ACL surgeries he was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Cruz, 28, has won 10 straight and his only loss - to Urijah Faber at WEC 26 in 2007 - has been avenged. Although he isn't a one-punch knockout type of guy, Cruz has been dominant and his unorthodox, feinting style has been hard for just about everyone to figure out.
"Cruz hasn't lost a fight in six years," White said. "Barao hasn't lost a fight in eight years. He's on a 30-fight win streak. Cruz is on a 10-fight win streak. That's a fight, man. Barao goes in and literally destroys people. Cruz has a style where he can pick you apart and make you look bad and win fights. I love that fight. "
White said that Cruz has taken the time to ensure there won't be ring rust, which isn't necessarily an indictment. Actually, White said it "makes the fight even more interesting."
"I know Dana," Cruz said. "It's very common sense. Why would Dana say, 'You know, I think he took a lot longer than he needed to, he could have came back way sooner? Why would he say that in a negative aspect? If he really thought that he would have made me come back sooner. He didn't mean anything negative by it."