On a recent interview with Ariel Helwani, Dominick Cruz shared his pre-fight experience with the referee, Keith Peterson, for his UFC 249 match, which took place on May 9, 2020. According to Cruz, during the pre-fight instructions, Peterson would not make eye contact with him, “my experience of him, was smelling like he had been out all night, the night before, like cigarettes and alcohol, and he could not make eye contact with me”. This was just before his walk out to the bantamweight championship bout with Henry “Triple C” Cejudo. If Cruz made an issue about his referee experience, or demanded another referee, who knows how a situation like that would’ve unfolded minutes before the fight. “The second I saw that this referee couldn’t look me in the eyes, I said I wish I had Herb Dean right here right now” per Cruz who ended up losing the match to Cejudo via TKO from a knee and punches at the end of the second round. Cejudo threw a beautiful knee that landed flush and dropped Cruz who scrambled to get up taking about 11 unanswered shots in the process. With just a few seconds left in the round, referee Keith Peterson stopped the match while Cruz was trying to get back on his feet. Cruz has claimed responsibility for allowing himself to be put in a place where a referee would need to step in however he also feels the fight should not be stopped if the fighter is coherently trying to get back to their feet. “That was a weak link in my fight” according to Cruz who feels a referee should be just as clear of state as a fighter if they’re going to be in there. Given also Cruz had a conversation with Peterson just minutes before the fight explaining how he should let the fight continue and not stop it for rabbit punches. Cruz dedicated three years of training which also involved rehabilitating from an injury, and to have the match stopped in this manner was very disappointing. Cruz clearly wasn’t out and obviously had 5 rounds of fighting still left in him. Some will say the stoppage was justified and Cejudo was going to end up doing more damage. Others will disagree but in no way will this change the course of events, and Dominick Cruz is very aware of that.