Dominick Cruz didn’t get the title shot he was hoping for, but the former bantamweight champ is still approaching his next bout like a championship fight.

After Cruz was defeated by Cody Garbrandt last December, he campaigned hard for an immediate shot at the belt. A lot of folks agreed that Cruz deserved one, as after all, this is a dude who didn’t lost a fight for nearly ten years, and is considered the greatest 135’er of all time.

But, ultimately, the UFC asked Cruz to fight Jimmie Rivera on December 30th, as they couldn’t guarantee that he’d face the winner of the November 4th, Cody Garbrandt – TJ Dillashaw bout. Cruz believed he really had little to choice but to accept the fight.

Since then, the storied fighter talked to, and while doing so, Cruz made this interesting comment about his next fight:

“We don’t make near as much money — we don’t get paid near the same — unless we fight for the belt,” Cruz said. “It doesn’t matter, though. Jimmie Rivera, to me, is the title fight. This is how I’ve approached every fight until now: The person they put in front of me is the title. That’s it.”

That’s a good way of looking at it. If you want to be at the top and earn bigger checks, then obviously each bout is crucially important. Although, one could question why accomplished fighters like Cruz, should make that much less, when they’re not the champ.

When it was announced that Cruz had accepted the fight with Rivera, it caught many off guard. Not only because Cruz had beens saying he was going to wait for a title shot, but because Rivera is one of the promotion’s fastest rising commodities. The New Jersey fighter has gone 5-0 to date in the UFC, and Rivera has defeated the likes of Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida during that time.

Not surprisingly, however, Cruz isn’t short on confidence, as he gets prepared to face Rivera:

“I just have to be me, man,” Cruz said. “Me being me doesn’t lose to Jimmie Rivera. But more importantly, a healthy me doesn’t lose to anybody in the world.”

That’s a ridiculously, compelling match-up, that should be one any fan’s must-see list. UFC 219 will go down at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.