Dominick Cruz knows the significance of what he’s fighting for at UFC 249, and it’s about far more than reclaiming a championship belt.

Cruz (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has multiple layers of incentives going into Saturday’s bantamweight title showdown with Henry Cejudo (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC). First and foremost, though, it’s to provide entertainment and distraction for a globally sport-craven audience who have spent the past several months in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It ranks up there as another history-making fight for me,” Cruz told reporters on Tuesday’s UFC 249 conference call. “But I really look at this different than belts and everything like that. It’s really how you can make a difference in these times with this platform. I can make a difference in these times.”

Cruz said he takes inspiration from boxing legend and activist Muhammad Ali, who made numerous personal “sacrifices” for the sake of the greater good. Moreover, it was hard to turn down such a significant opportunity.

Cejudo was originally supposed to defend his title against Jose Aldo in Brazil, but the COVID-19 crisis forced the promotion to relocate the event to the U.S., and Aldo was unable to travel to the country.

That’s when Cruz got the call for a title shot, despite not having fought since December 2016. The former two-time champion of the 135-pound division has been plagued with injuries in recent years and, by the time he fights at UFC 249, will have gone nearly four years since he won a fight.

This situation isn’t particularly uncommon to Cruz, though. He has a history of success when fighting after multi-year layoffs, but he’s never faced this long of a break. Pair that with the fact he’s older at 34, and has endured more injuries, then this task is steeper than anything he’s encountered previously.

If Cruz can overcome that, though, he said it would be a historic achievement not just for MMA, but for sports as a whole.

“It equals up to anything that’s ever been done in sports, period,” Cruz said. “That’s how you become legendary in this thing. I’ve already done legendary things in this division and in the sport. More than half my fights are title fights. Just with the murderers how I’ve faced. … To come back after a layoff when no one gives you a shot and beat up a 125er, it’s going to be fun.”

UFC 249 takes place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. Cruz vs. Cejudo co-headlines the pay-per-view main card, which follows prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

If Cruz does manage to dethrone Cejudo, he said it wouldn’t be top career accomplishment. Cruz was relatively dismissive of the champion and believes he’s going to put on a dominant performance, and he admitted his level of confidence wasn’t quite the same when he came back from a more than two-year break to dethrone T.J. Dillashaw.

“I think the win over T.J. will mean more because T.J. Dillashaw is a true bantamweight, and Henry is still a ’25er,” Cruz said. “Realistically this isn’t going to be as tough of a fight as T.J. – I know that. He’ll go back to his division after I beat him.”