After three years and two surgeries, Dominick Cruz is back. After getting a clean bill of health, Dominick Cruz has been added to the UFC 178 card on September 27 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He will fight Japanese Takeya Mizugaki in a three round bout at the 135 lbs weight class in one of the most anticipated returns in UFC history.
Cruz was the UFC’s inaugural Bantamweight King after the WEC and UFC merged in 2011. Cruz won the WEC 135-pound belt by halting Brian Bowles in 2010.
He defended the title twice against Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen. After the UFC merger, he defeated Urijah Faber in UFC 132 and Demetrious Johnson in 2011 before suffering the ACL injury while training for his next bout.
Cruz was considered one of the top pound for pound fighters at that time and unquestionably the best bantamweight. He was on a ten fight winning streak at the time of the injury. The only blot of his career was a submission defeat to Urijah Faber in a 2007 WEC Featherweight title fight.
He avenged that loss by defeating Faber via unanimous decision in their rematch at UFC 132. The 28 year old Cruz has a record of 19-1 with 6 KOs and 1 submission.
Relinquishing the Title
Early this year, Cruz was forced to relinquish his UFC bantamweight title as he once again suffered a quad injury that forced him off a scheduled title defense at UFC 169.
After the UFC stripped Cruz of the belt, it promoted interim champion Renan Barao to full champion status. Barao defended and lost the title to T.J Dillashaw via 5th round TKO at UFC 173 last May. Barao and Dillashaw will fight again this coming August 30 at UFC 177 in a rematch for the title.
Opposing Cruz at UFC 178 will be Japanese Takeya Mizugaki, the #6 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. Mizugaki is on a five bout winning streak and has won six of his last seven bouts, with his lone defeat via a controversial unanimous decision to Chris Cariaso at UFC 144 in 2012.
Mizugaki is coming off a victory over the UFC’s # 12 bantamweight Francisco Rivera last May at UFC 173. Mizugaki will be looking to score the biggest win of his career against Cruz. He has a record of 20-7-2 with 5 KOs and 1 submission.
Reclaiming the Title
While Cruz never officially lost the title, he will have to earn it back. Cruz is only 28 years old but it remains to be seen what the effect of the two surgeries have on him. Cruz ended up having a complete replacement of his ACL, and reinjured it after the initial surgery. He has been given a clean bill of health but he won’t only deal with the injury, he will be looking at a near three year layoff which Mizugaki will most definitely take advantage of.