And it won’t take much convincing for him if that idea is indeed the next offer in his inbox.
“What I’m hearing most from people — I haven’t really made a decision, I haven’t talked to [UFC matchmaker Sean] Shelby or anything, but I’m hearing most that the old legacy fight that never happened between me and [Jose] Aldo is, like, right there,” Cruz said on The MMA Hour following UFC 269. “And I think that that does it. I can completely understand that. I get how that’s an interesting fight for the world. To fight Aldo, it’s an honor.”
Cruz and Aldo were two of the seminal figures to cross over to the UFC after the dissolution of the WEC in 2010. Both were dominant WEC champions early in their careers — Cruz at 135 pounds and Aldo at 145 pounds — and both became dominant champions in the UFC. Many still consider Cruz and Aldo to be the two most accomplished fighters in the history of their respective weight classes, and both men are guaranteed future Hall of Famers.
A dream superfight between them was never really on the table during Aldo’s heyday as a featherweight, but now it’s a real possibility with Cruz and Aldo both making late-career surges into title contention at 135 pounds. And for Cruz, the matchup makes sense.
“Think of the things this dude’s done,” Cruz said of Aldo. “And he’s also been through the ups and downs of his career, and now made his way back in an extremely respectful form. So that fight, I understand how that can make sense. But I’m going to sit down and, you know, we’ve got to do the talks and see what happens. But you know me — I show up and I do my job, and I’m not a pick-and-chooser. Obviously people have been calling me out my whole career, people have been comparing me to other people my whole career.
“I’ve done a really good job of not allowing that to make my decisions for me on my own end, and I’m not going to start doing that now. So let’s just see where we go.”
Cruz noted that, aside from a swollen foot, he’s been healthy in the aftermath of UFC 269 and he planned to return to the gym before the year is over.
His 2021 campaign marked the first time since 2016 that Cruz has been able to compete in multiple bouts in a calendar year, and he celebrated that feat by going 2-0.
Now after back-to-back victories over Casey Kenney and Munhoz, Cruz is in the thick of yet another unlikely title chase, and he knows his window to make something happen is brief at the stage of my career, so the 36-year-old isn’t looking to squander it.
“I’m not in a rush,” Cruz said. “I’m working a full-time job while I do this too, just to make sure that I’ve got bills paid and whatnot, and not just relying on prizefighting to get my my life together. That’s one thing that I’ll say is a lot different too is, in 2010, when I won my [WEC] world title against Brian Bowles, I quit my job. I was teaching 19 classes a week for $20 a class and I was making $1,000 a month before I fought Brian Bowles.
“Man, I never would’ve thought that as I got up, I would get more jobs. As you grow up and you get more titles, you think you’re going to have less jobs, right? That’s my thought. Like, I’m going to have less work to do right and more money. And I’m not hating on anything. I’m just saying that it didn’t work that way. So I end up having more jobs now than I’ve ever had in my life, while I’m still grinding and peaking in my career and trying to do my best there in prizefighting.
“So to let that go for this past 12 weeks to prepare for this fight, it showed. And that’s what I need to continue to do to show up for these prizefights.”