While no date is set in stone, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White is confident his bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will step in the Octagon before the end of the calendar year.
Cruz (19-1) has been unable to train for a fight since the summer of 2012 when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and was forced to withdraw from his scheduled UFC 148 title defense against Urijah Faber and undergo surgery.
If the one trip under the knife wasn't bad enough, Cruz reinjured his leg several months after the initial surgery and was forced to go through a second procedure on his ACL.
The last time Cruz was seen in the cage was when he successfully defended his title against current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in Oct. 2011. It has been a long time since Cruz fought; however, the UFC's head-honcho thinks the time is approaching for the world's No. 1 ranked 135-pound fighter to make his return.
"He will fight this year," White said of Cruz in a scrum (watch it here) with a group of reporters at the conclusion of Thursday's (April 18, 2013) UFC on FOX 7: "Henderson vs. Melendez" media day in San Jose, California.
White revealed that Cruz is training again and barring any setbacks, expects to see the 135-pound king mix it up inside the cage before 2013 comes to a close.
"He [Cruz] is feeling good," White stated in the scrum. "His training is coming along and hopefully he stays healthy."
While others have had their doubts about the American's ability to recover from two major knee surgeries, Cruz has remained positive and optimistic about his return to action throughout the entire process.
During his absence, interim 135-pound champion Renan Barao has ruled the division and is eagerly waiting for "The Dominator" to get healthy so a unification title bout can take place.
The latest update on Cruz can only be encouraging to fans of the 27-year-old and if he can indeed step foot in the Octagon before the end of 2013, his return to mixed martial arts (MMA) competition after a nearly two year absense will be highly anticipated.