The gloves won't be coming off for Dominick Cruz anytime soon.
The former UFC bantamweight champion refuted the notion of retiring during an appearance on Wednesday's episode of The MMA Hour, after suffering a terrible knockout loss to Marlon Vera in the main event of UFC San Diego, which was decided by a nasty kick to the face.
“I’m here, yeah — what do you mean?” Cruz said when asked about his future. “Right now, it’s been a month-and-a-half. I’m running again, I’ve been lifting, getting the body strong. I’m still top-10 level. I don’t look at myself after that loss and go, ‘I’m not there any more.’ I do the opposite. I go, alright, speed’s still there, power’s still there, all this stuff’s still there. We’ve just got to tighten up some defense.
“You either retire, or you lose, and those are your choices. I think a lot of people who retire, they didn’t lose, because they retired. You can just keep going, but there’s a point where you’re just going to stack up too many losses, because you’re not there any more. I don’t really look at my last fight and go, ‘Ah, you’re not really at the level, these guys are just outclassing you.’ It wasn’t really that. So, just take my team, fix the fundamentals and take it a day at a time. Get my body strong, and just train and love training.”
Cruz's defeat ended a two-fight winning streak that had been established following his loss of the bantamweight belt and inability to successfully defend it after an injury-induced hiatus of nearly four years. The 37-year-old San Diego native has competed at the highest level in MMA in a number of promotions and is among the few seasoned fighters who have successfully reclaimed a lost belt.
Cruz is amazed by the technical developments in MMA over the years and the dangers that upcoming fighters must contend with, including the ambidextrous striking abilities Vera utilized to catch him from a southpaw posture after stumbling over his typically evasive movement. He nevertheless thinks that his abilities are still useful and that, in order to be competitive, he merely needs to improve his game's basics.
Cruz still thinks he is only one victory away from another title shot, despite his defeat. It's because of this that rising talent frequently calls him out, making him an alluring target. Jonathan Martinez defeated veteran Cub Swanson last weekend with a leg kick and then used his post-fight remarks to challenge the former champion.
“What a sweetheart of a f****** guy — let’s be honest, the nicest guy on earth, calling me out, and it makes sense,” he said. “Do you want to fight a guy that’s got 300 followers and is lethal, or do you want to fight a guy who’s been doing this for a long time and is also lethal, but either way, you’re facing two dangerous guys — one guy is a former champ, one guy is nasty, not a former champ. Who you going to call out?
Cruz is currently most concerned with getting back into condition, taking care not to put too much stress on his body while traveling with the UFC, and restoring the aspects of his game that make him a threat on all fronts. His attitude hasn't altered, regardless of whether he competes once more for another title, challenges a new, hungry talent, or chooses another alternative on his long journey. Inside and out, he participates in the fight game and hasn't let go of it.