After almost three years out of the Octagon and being stripped of the UFC Bantamweight Championship in the process, Dominick Cruz (19-1) makes his return on Sept. 27 against Takeya Mizugaki (20-7-2) at UFC 178 in Las Vegas. The fight was confirmed to ESPN by “The Dominator” himself.
The former UFC and WEC Bantamweight Champion has not fought since Oct. 1, 2011 at UFC Live 6, when he earned a Unanimous Decision victory over Demetrious Johnson, reigning UFC Flyweight Champion, to successfully defend, what was then, his title.
Cruz was expected to complete the trilogy with Urijah Faber at UFC 148 for the UFC Bantamweight Championship again. The two coached the fifteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. However, a month before the fight, Cruz suffered a torn ACL and was forced to pull out. He was replaced by Renan Barao and the fight got pushed back to UFC 149, when Barao defeated Faber to become the Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Seven months later, Cruz had to undergo another ACL surgery, extending his recovery time to another six to nine months.
The face of Alliance MMA was finally scheduled to finally make his return at UFC 169 in Feb. 1, 2014 to unify the UFC Bantamweight Championship with Barao. Unfortunately, bad fortunes continued to hit Cruz as a month before the fight, Cruz tore his groin. As a result, he was stripped of the title and Barao was declared the Undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champion. “The Dominator” was replaced by Faber, who Barao defeated again. Barao would later lose the title three months later to TJ Dillashaw at UFC 173.
Before all of these injuries, Cruz was on a 10-fight winning streak. His last four fights were successful title defenses of both the WEC and UFC Bantamweight Championships.
Although Cruz will have to fight for a title shot, he won’t be getting an easy task in his return as he will be taking on #5 UFC Bantamweight, Takeya Mizugaki.
The Japanese veteran is currently on a 5-fight winning streak, all five wins going to the judges’ scorecards. Mizugaki is coming off a Unanimous Decision over Francisco Rivera at UFC 173. He holds wins over Erik Perez, Bryan Caraway and Nam Phan.
UFC 178 was originally slated to take place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. However, the fight was re-located to Las Vegas. This card will be headlined by a rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. A middleweight bout between Tim Kennedy and Yoel Romero was also announced for the September card.