Almost three years after his last UFC fight, could former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz finally be headed back to the cage?
According to Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight, Cruz looks to return to the octagon in August or September, and would like to face Japanese superstar Takeya Mizugaki in his return bout. However, the earliest Mizugaki can fight is late September due to ear surgery.
Cruz last fought in October 2011, defeating current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. After coaching opposite Urijah Faber on The Ultimate Fighter, the two were scheduled to fight in July of 2012, before Cruz tore his ACL.
Cruz would be forced to undergo a second ACL surgery a year later, and was shelved yet again in early 2014 with a torn groin.
During the process of his second ACL surgery, Cruz was stripped of the UFC bantamweight title, and it was awarded to interim champion Renan Barao, who later lost the strap to TJ Dillashaw.
The return of Cruz will be particularly interesting, as most of Cruz’s victories late in his career were against flyweights – Demetrious Johnson, Scott Jorgensen and Joseph Benavidez — as there was no UFC flyweight division before he was injured.
The landscape of the UFC bantamweight division is drastically different from 2011.
The UFC tentatively has a pay-per-view planned for late August that will be in dire need of headline fighters, so it remains to be seen when or where Cruz will be fighting, but Cruz and his coaches have made their feelings known.