Dominick Cruz is not a happy man following his controversial second-round stoppage loss to Henry Cejudo during Saturday’s UFC 249, claiming afterwards that referee Keith Peterson smelled of “alcohol and cigarettes.”
Former bantamweight champion Cruz came up short in his quest to reclaim UFC gold after a 1,227-day absence from the cage in Jacksonville late Saturday night, as the injury-plagued fighter was finished by strikes seconds before the bell.
The finish came as Cejudo landed a knee to a ducking Cruz, sending the fighter sprawling against the cage. ‘Triple C’ immediately followed up with strikes before referee Keith Peterson called a halt to the fight.
The UFC commentary team, including Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier, initially protested the stoppage when replays showed that Cruz – while dazed – was attempting to get back to his feet when Peterson opted to end the contest.
Cruz cut a forlorn figure after the defeat, quickly leaving the octagon before he could be interviewed by Rogan – but speaking after the fight, Cruz complained about Peterson’s handling of the fight and even suggested that the referee had been drinking alcohol beforehand.
Dominick Cruz says the no nonsense Keith Peterson smelled like alcohol and cigarettes #UFC249pic.twitter.com/poQSfRvdwS
“I mean, totally cognizant is hard to say – you’re rocked, sometimes you get hit,” Cruz said to Megan Olivi. “I’ve been in those positions many, many times, though, and I had seconds left in the round.
“And I just think sometimes I wish that there was a way to keep these refs a little more responsible. The guy smelled like alcohol and cigarettes, so who knows what he was doing.”
Apparently taken aback by Cruz’s statement, Olivi pressed him on the cigarettes and alcohol allegation only for Cruz to double down.
“Definitely,” Cruz said. “I wish they drug tested them. I know Herb Dean is good – he’s one of the best refs. I immediately when I saw that ref, I was like, ‘Is there a way to veto that ref and get a new one?’ I wonder that as fighters, do we have that choice? I’m not sure, I wish we did.
“I’m not happy with the stoppage, obviously,” he continued. “Because I specifically asked the ref to wait unless I was knocked out. I was standing up … and I was definitely still aware. Now, I get that there were unanswered shots, but if I’m standing up to my feet on my way up, the ref should give me [more time].
“Hats off to Henry. I shouldn’t have got caught with that knee, but at the same time … I was on my way up. [If I was knocked out] how do I get my balance? This is for a world title. This isn’t some sort of backyard fight.”