UFC bantamweight contender Dominick Cruz says he’ll be sharing the cage with a friend for the first time when he faces Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269.
Cruz, a former two-time UFC champion who’s widely regarded as one of the best bantamweights in history, will be looking to secure his second victory of 2021 on December 11.
After having his 13-fight winning streak snapped and his belt taken away by Cody Garbrandt in 2016, Cruz spent nearly four years on the sidelines dealing with multiple injuries. He returned last May but fell short of regaining the title after former two-division titleholder Henry Cejudo finished him late in the second round.
Having rebounded with a split decision triumph over Casey Kenney at UFC 259 in March, Cruz will be looking to take another step up the 135-pound ladder when he collides with #8-ranked Munhoz.
Having lost three of his last four outings, including a decision setback against José Aldo in August, the Brazilian will be looking to maintain his place in the division by halting the charge of Cruz.
Cruz Respects Munhoz Outside Of The Octagon
From rivalries to bad blood, Cruz has pretty much faced every scenario across his illustrious 16-year career. However, “The Dominator” has revealed he’ll be experiencing something new at the final pay-per-view of the year.
During an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, Cruz suggested his clash with Munhoz will represent the first time he’s ever entered the Octagon with someone he considers to be a friend.
“Pedro’s an OG in the game; been here forever, almost as long as me, if not the same amount. I have mutual respect for him. The one thing that’s different about Pedro is I’ve never fought somebody who’s actually, like, I would consider a friend. Pedro is actually a friend of mine, so this is a first for me. I’ve had rematches, I’ve had people that I don’t like, I’ve had rivalries, I’ve had all of it.
“The one thing I haven’t had is a friend, somebody that I respect as a human being outside of the sport, and not just what they’ve done in the sport. That’s different, but it’s not gonna stop us from trying to rip each other’s faces off because that’s what we are.”
Discussing his relationship with his fellow bantamweight veteran, Cruz described the lengths Munhoz went to during a trip the former champ made to the 35-year-old’s home country of Brazil a number of years ago.
“We’re not like, close, because he lives in Florida and I live here (San Diego), but I went to Brazil and I’ve done some things (there) and he made sure I was taken care of and was just, you know, we went on a run, we did some training when my shoulder was blown out a couple years ago… Not a lot of fighters would open up their door in their country to just be kind and create a space to train and he did that. He was very open about it, very honest, and we were honest so, we became friends at that time. It’s not like we hang out all the time or anything like that, I just respect the human being that he is outside of fighting.”
Despite their friendly relationship, “The Dominator” and “The Young Punisher” will go to war this weekend on the preliminary card of what promises to be a blockbuster pay-per-view to close out the year.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 269, Dominick Cruz or Pedro Munhoz?
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