Oft-injured former Bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, has been cleared by his doctors to resume full mixed martial arts (MMA) training. And rather than ease "Dominator" back into action, UFC has decided instead to just let him compete for his old 135-pound crown immediately upon his return.
Company president shared the good news on "UFC Tonight" earlier this evening, revealing that the long-awaited showdown against reigning kingpin, T.J. Dillashaw, will headline UFC Fight Night 81, which will air on FOX Sports 1 from inside TD Garden in Boston, Mass., on Jan. 17, 2016.
It's hard to blame UFC for pushing Cruz right into a title fight 16 months removed from his most recent Octagon appearance.That's because Cruz looked like he never skipped a beat, throttling Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 178 in Sept. 2014 in just 61 seconds after more than three years on the sidelines with several knee injuries and complications, as well as a groin tear.
Indeed, if Cruz appeared more than capable of reclaiming the division crown that he was forced to vacate coming off a three-year hiatus, then 16 months should be a piece cake.
If he can escape a full training camp with out any setbacks, of course, which is never a guarantee for the talented 30-year-old.
While Cruz has been licking his wounds, Dillashaw has been licking the competition. Most notably, two very dominant wins over former champion and pound-for-pound elite, Renan Barao, at UFC 173 in May 2014 and then again at UFC on FOX 16 just two months ago.
After Dillashaw's win, Cruz branded Dillashaw a "wannabe that doesn't know what it's like to face a real champion." Cruz also accused "Viper" of "stealing" his fight style. In response, Dillashaw vowed to finish Cruz "faster than he did Barao."
Regardless of the actual result come showtime, know this: We've got a great fight to look forward to ... A REAL ONE ... that features two of the best in the sport.