T.J. Dillashaw expects Dominick Cruz to reclaim his bantamweight crown when he takes on Henry Cejudo in the co-main event of UFC 249.
Cruz will be fighting for the first time since 2016 but he has been adamant ring rust isn’t real. According to Dillashaw, who fought both of them, he believes in the same. He thinks Cruz will use his awkward striking to frustrate Cejudo and win a decision.
“I actually think Cruz wins the fight, I think he wins a decision,” Dillashaw told ESPN. “I don’t think Cejudo is all he cracks himself up to be. He’s very good, don’t get me wrong. He’s a great athlete, he’s done some amazing things in the combat world. But I don’t think he’s to the level of what Cruz can show him. It’s gonna be difficult for Cejudo to deal with Cruz’s awkward movement.
“It’s not that Cruz is super technical, he’s just awkward and hard to deal with. Cruz has some huge openings in his game. He’s got a way to be beaten, he definitely does. I just don’t know if Cejudo has the element to do it. The way Cejudo needs to fight Cruz is by not being overly aggressive, don’t chase him.”
For Dillashaw, he says Cejudo can’t try and knock Cruz out early, as it won’t work. Instead, he has to be patient, which he isn’t sure if “Triple C” will be able to.
So, for Dillashaw, he thinks Dominick Cruz will have his way with Cejudo to win back his title.
“Don’t go guns-a-blazing at the beginning and throwing big shots to try and catch him,” Dillashaw said. “I kind of learned that mistake the first couple rounds when I was trying to knock Cruz’s head off. And then I beat him up the last few rounds. Cody Garbrandt showed that, too. Cruz put himself out of position because he does it nonstop. Cruz puts himself way out of position all the time, but he’s playing this cat-and-mouse game where he gets you to bite and then he takes advantage of it.”
“I don’t know how well Cejudo will be able to deal with it,” Dillashaw added. “I think with Cruz’s cardio and his experience, he outpoints Cejudo. Cejudo can beat him. I just don’t think he will, I think Cruz is gonna edge him out. I think MMA wrestling is a completely different sport. Cejudo is the better wrestler. But MMA wrestling is a whole sport on its own.
“I think the distance control that Cruz has is going to be one of Cejudo’s biggest challenges. He’s not gonna be able to get a hold of Cruz. If he does, he isn’t gonna be able to hold him down,” he concluded. “It’s not like Cejudo is a jiu-jitsu expert where he’s gonna take advantage of Cruz giving him his back. Because Cruz gives up his back constantly when he gets taken down, but he uses it to get back to his feet. I think Cruz’s scrambling ability and his MMA wrestling will be an advantage for him, too.”