Dominick Cruz says he’s feeling strong and healthy for his return to the octagon at UFC 249. His first weight cut in more than three years, however, is not particularly enjoyable.

Cruz (21-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) competes in his first bout since December 2016 when he challenges Henry Cejudo (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) for the UFC bantamweight title in Saturday’s co-headliner, which takes place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., and airs on pay-per-view.

Cruz’s body has endured a lot in recent years, including multiple surgeries, and Cruz admits he’s feeling both sides of that heading into fight night.

“I’m in the weight cut period, so that kind of sucks, but that’s always sucky,” Cruz told reporters Thursday during a virtual UFC 249 media day. “I feel like money. My body is healthy. I was fighting with a shoulder injury for about three title fights, I had that shoulder injury. I just put stem cells in my body and just tried to make do. I was constantly aching, constantly sore. I don’t have to do any of that anymore. My knees are stronger than ever; my hands are completely rebuilt. I feel great. To be honest, I really do. I feel stronger than I have in a long time.”

With Cruz’s confidence in his physique, there’s no reason to believe he will miss weight for the first time in his career when he steps on the scale Friday. If anything, he’s extremely motivated to get it over with.

Cruz, who also works as a UFC commentator, said his time away has allowed him to gain a greater appreciation of the process. He is embracing the pain of the weight cut, because in his mind it makes what he expects to be a title-winning performance over Cejudo even sweeter.

“I’m thankful for food and water,” Cruz said. “It’s a reality check. I feel like everyone in the world should have to go through this one time in their life so they can be thankful for the little things. Because I could jump out in that water (outside) right now butt naked and drink the entire lake. I could drink it all. It creates a thankfulness for the little things. I’m grateful to be in this position right now.”