Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) recently booked former division champion Dominick Cruz against top bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera for the upcoming UFC 219 pay-per-view (PPV) event, scheduled for Sat., Dec. 30, 2017 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
More on how that fight came together here.
As you might expect, Cruz was angling for a championship rematch against Cody Garbrandt, not a potential title eliminator against the unheralded Rivera. But according to “El Terror,” UFC is investing in the future.
From his conversation with the Obviously Fight Talk podcast:
“I actually just finished listening to The MMA Hour and heard him speak about it, and, at the end of the day, they have this upcoming star that could last a lot longer than Cruz, and I think they’re trying to push me a little bit more which is nice. And from now his point of view it’s simple, he should fight for the title, but does he get the belt next? He’s not promised, and anything can happen, so I could get the title shot next. So, that’s basically what he made it sound like, and that’s fine, which makes sense. He hasn’t fought in a year, Cody hasn’t fought in almost a year too, and he hasn’t defended his belt, so Cruz should defend his spot.”
Injuries continue to plague the 135-pound division.
Rivera (21-1) joined UFC in summer 2015 after making a mockery of the regional scene. Currently ranked No. 3, “El Terror” has five straight wins inside the Octagon with signature wins over Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida, among others.
The oft-injured Cruz (22-2) suffered his first defeat inside the Octagon when Garbrandt stripped him of the 135-pound strap at UFC 207. The loss to “No Love” also snapped a 13-fight win streak dating back to 2008.
Early predictions on this bantamweight bang-o-rama?