After Dominick Cruz came up short in his UFC 249 bantamweight title fight with Henry Cejudo, he claimed that referee Keith Peterson, who stopped the bout in the second round, smelled like booze and cigarettes.
This remark generated immediate controversy, as many fans felt it was irresponsible of Cruz to make such an incendiary claim about an official with a very good track record.
Cruz, however, isn’t backing down. In fact, he recently doubled down on his comments about Peterson.
“Before I went out to that fight, I specifically remember looking at this referee, Keith Peterson, and he’s mumbling, he’s touching the floor, he’s putting his fists down, and then putting his fingers about where not to knee, where to knee,” Cruz said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show (h/t South China Morning Post).
“And he won’t look me in the eye, and I’m going underneath to try to make sure he looks me in my eyes and I’m like, ‘Hey man, I can’t understand what you’re talking about, be clear, because you are in control of this fight,'” Cruz continued. “My experience of him was smelling like he’d been out all night the night before, like cigarettes and alcohol, and he could not make eye contact with me.
“I have never in 25 fights had a referee that could not make eye contact with me before a fight.”
Cruz then took things even further, claiming his teammate Jeremy Stephens, who also fought at UFC 249, previously had to carry Peterson up a flight of stairs because he was so inebriated.
“I’ve just never had a referee that I felt so shaky about leading into the fight, that smelled the way he smelled,” Cruz said. “I have accounts of fighters in camps who have legitimately … I mean Jeremy Stephens has told me, he had to carry that dude back up to his room before, he’s so hammered.
“So this is real stuff that we’re talking about. The fights are going on and these guys are getting hammered the night before and they’re not clear and they’re coming in hungover. You’re a weak link in my three year preparation for this and I don’t appreciate that.”
What do you think of these comments from Dominick Cruz?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 5/12/2020.