Dominick Cruz felt he was robbed of the chance to have a definite end to his fight with Henry Cejudo at UFC 249 due to what he believes to be the incompetence of referee Keith Peterson.

Cruz’s (22-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) return to the octagon after more than three years was soured Saturday when he was stopped late in the second round of his bantamweight title fight with Cejudo (16-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC). Cruz ate a big knee that rocked him, allowing Cejudo to pounce and throw a flurry that forced Peterson to step in with just two seconds remaining on the clock.

The former UFC and WEC bantamweight titleholder took umbrage with the stoppage, and he’s put Peterson in his crosshairs and accused the referee of being not in a level mind when overseeing the bout.

“That was an early stoppage, 100 percent – I’m positive of it,” Cruz said on the UFC 249 post-fight show 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 know Herb Dean is good. He’s one of the best refs. 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.”

It’s an unusual statement for a fighter to make in the fallout of the bout, but Cruz insists he was “still in the fight” and “on my way up” when Peterson intervened.

Ultimately, though, Cruz knows he is most responsible for the result. He took the knee that set up the finish, and he can’t point the finger at anyone but himself for that happening.

“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.”