October 2011 is the last time the Mixed Martial Arts world saw Dominick Cruz enter the cage to do battle and defend his bantamweight belt. Nearly 3 years ago Cruz defended his bantamweight belt against he current flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson. This was only Cruz’s second fight in the UFC but he had defended his title 4 times overall. With wins over the likes of Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles, and Joseph Benevidez, Cruz was beginning to creep into the pound for pound fighter rankings. His skill and technique, coupled with his 3 year undefeated streak, put the former champion in with the elite of the sport.
The fact the Cruz was starting to make a name for himself and gain a following spoke volumes to his abilities, especially as a lower weight fighter. Cruz headlined his first UFC event at UFC 132, beating Urijah Faber in a closely contested 5 round war that won fight of the night. After that, his fight with Demtrious Johnson showed the world that he was here to stay as a fixture in the bantamweight division.
Cruz then elected to participate as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter, competing against his rival, Urijah Faber, and scheduled to fight him a third time in a rubber match that would settle their score. During the show, however, it was revealed that Cruz had torn his ACL and had to undergo surgery to repair it. The initial tear happened in May of 2012, forcing Cruz out of the July showdown with Faber.
Later, it was revealed that the cadaver ACL that was put into Cruz’s knee was rejected by his body, forcing Cruz to undertake a second surgery in December of 2012, pushing his recovery date back another 6 to 9 months. At this point, it would be well over a year until Cruz could return to the cage and MMA fans, typically a fickle bunch, were calling for him to give up his title if he couldn’t defend it for so long.
In what was a highly touted fight, Cruz was to make his return to the Octagon in February of 2014 against the interim champion, Renan Barao. This fight was dubbed a ‘champion vs. champion’ fight and one that would determine who the real king of the 135 pound division is. While training for this fight at UFC 169, Cruz badly tore his groin and was, once again, forced out of the fight. It was after this injury that the UFC staff forced Cruz to give up his title, dubbed Renan Barao and the official champ, and let Urijah Faber fight Renan Barao for the belt.
It’s been nearly 3 years, but Dominick Cruz, the once dominate and technically astute bantamweight champion, is once again scheduled to fight in the UFC. He will be taking on surging star, Takeya Mizugaki in a 3 round, non title fight at UFC 178. Mizugaki is no easy fight, however, as the Japanese star is on a 5 fight win streak and is looking to beat Cruz and earn himself a shot at the title.
Cruz, however, will do everything in his power to stop Mizugaki from doing that and earn what might be the most important win of his career. For Cruz, the bout with one of the division’s best will answer a slew of questions and doubts that he and many fans around the world have about his ability to return to championship-caliber form.
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Tags: 178, Bantamweight, Demetrious, Dominick Cruz, Johnson, MMA, Takeya Mizugaki, UFC, Urijah Faber