UFC 249: Dominick Cruz says ref Keith Peterson ‘smelled like alcohol and cigarettes’

Dominick Cruz claims that a UFC 249 referee didn’t pass the smell test.

Following the stoppage of Saturday’s bantamweight title fight against Henry Cejudo with just two seconds left in the second round, Cruz accused referee Keith Peterson of drinking on the job, arguing it contributed to what he believed to be a premature end to the fight.

“That was an early stoppage, 100 percent – I’m positive of it,” Cruz said afterwards on ESPN. “I wish there was a way to keep these refs a little more responsible sometimes. The guy smelled like alcohol and cigarettes, so who knows what he was doing. Definitely (he did). I wish they drug tested them.

“I immediately when I saw that ref I was like, ‘Man, is there a way to veto a ref and get a new one?’ I wonder that.”

Cruz (22-3, MMA, UFC 5-2) hadn’t fought in more than three years and was knocked to the ground with a big knee from Cejudo (16-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC,) who followed with a series of punches, before the bout was called.

UFC 249 Dominick Cruz Henry Cejudo Keith Peterson
Dominick Cruz (r.) protests UFC referee Keith Peterson’s stoppage.Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Cruz, 35, a former bantamweight champion, took some responsibility for the defeat after making the serious allegation.

“I’m not a guy to make excuses,” Cruz said. “If you put yourself in the position for the ref to mess something up in a stoppage, then you do so.

“[Was I] totally cognizant? That’s hard to say. You’re rocked. Sometimes you get hit. I’ve been in those positions many, many times, though.”

Cejudo’s post-fight comments may have been more surprising, during which he announced his retirement.

“I’m happy with my career. I’ve done enough in the sport. I want to walk away,” Cejudo said. “I want to enjoy myself. I’m 33 years old – I have a girl now who’s watching back home. I eventually want to start a family. Since I was 11 years old, I sacrificed my whole life to get where I’m at today. I’m not going to let nobody take that from me. So I’m retiring tonight. I’m 33 years old. I’m happy with my career. Uncle Dana (White), I want to say thank you for everything. You’re the man. … Thank you so much, but ‘Triple C’s’ out. You guys don’t have to hear my ass no more.”

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