Henry Cejudo said current contenders need to “wait in line” while he faces “legends” like Dominick Cruz, but there will be no bantamweight bout against TJ Dillashaw.
Bantamweight champion Cejudo will take on challenger Cruz at the behind-closed-doors UFC 249 on Saturday, just over 11 months after his previous fight.
Cruz, who has held the title twice, has had an even longer layoff, though, last fighting in December 2016 before a series of injuries.
Cruz’s return to the big stage has prompted questions about Cejudo, who was slated to face Jose Aldo at UFC 250, and his decision not to instead welcome a contender like Aljamain Sterling, Petr Yan or Cory Sandhagen — a trio ranked second, third and fourth in the division, respectively.
The man with the belt is not impressed by them.
“Eventually, eventually [I will face them]. But tell those dudes to wait in line, man,” Cejudo told reporters at the UFC’s virtual media day. “Tell me who they’ve beaten. Petr Yan, all these dudes, they probably should have fought each other to really make the No. 1 contender. I knocked out the No. 1 contender [Marlon Moraes in June 2019].
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“If they continue to keep crying, call each other out, man, build a storyline, make fights. Jesus.
“As of right now, this is why I’m calling out legends, man, because these dudes have paid their dues in this sport, Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo.”
One former champion who still does not interest Cejudo, though, is Dillashaw.
Cejudo defeated his rival in a flyweight championship bout last year, before it was revealed Dillashaw had tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) when a rematch at bantamweight rematch appeared inevitable.
Dillashaw was suspended for two years retroactive to their clash so he will be eligible to fight again in January, but like Sterling and Co., he will have to “go through the line” rather than take on Cejudo right away.
“People will never know until you’re cheated on, man,” Cejudo said. “It’s an honor to fight someone in the Octagon.
“I almost feel embarrassed, I feel dirty even talking about TJ. I don’t think there’s anything in my heart that I want to fight that dude. I really don’t.
“I don’t even think I ever want to fight that dude again. And I truly mean that.
“He’s got to get his mind right, he’s got to be fair. He’s got to go through the line.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s just what I feel deep inside. I don’t even know if I could stand next to him and do a staredown.
“It’s false, you know what I’m saying? I feel weird saying all those bad things, but you’re asking me to tell you how I feel and that’s how I feel.”