Speaking at the post-fight press conference, Cruz admitted he knew Garbrandt was a serious contender and that it is now Cruz’s turn to pursue the title again. “I knew that he was going to be good,” he said. “I said that leading into it. He knew I was going to be good, and that’s what it is when you’re champion. Somebody else has the target on their back now, and I get to chase the target for once. That’s how it goes. It’s okay. We’ve seen the best in the world lose it, and we’ve seen the best in the world gain it back.”
He also said he enjoyed the fight and reflected on some of his past struggles and how he will overcome this loss the way he overcame those trials. “I enjoyed every second of this fight,” Cruz said. “Look, I’ve been fighting the best guys in the world for the past ten years, the top two in the world. I’ve been on the pound-for-pound list for a long time. Even when I was hurt with triple ACL reconstructive surgeries, there was a target on my back. I had to come back and fight through it. This was no different. This was just another fight that I had to challenge myself.”
Cruz falls to 22-2.
Cervantes Analysis: Cruz was extremely humble in defeat last night and seemed at peace with his loss. He has certainly been through more than most fighters have in their careers and he managed to work through all the setbacks and recapture a belt he never formally lost after years of being away from the sport. His accomplishments are nothing short of amazing and with Garbrandt already clamoring for an immediate rematch, he will have yet another opportunity to come back from another setback better than before.