UFC 249 – Return of Dominick Cruz

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UFC 249 sees the return of one of the best bantamweight to ever compete in mixed martial arts, Dominick Cruz. Set to feature as the co-main event, the current champion, Henry Cejudo will put his 135lbs belt on the line against the former champion.

The Eventual Return

We haven’t seen the former bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, since he dropped the belt, decisively to Cody Garbrandt back in December of 2016. Prior to this, however, he was undefeated in 13 fights, spanning back to 2007. This included seven title fights… all of which he won.

Since his unsuccessful defence against Garbrandt, Cruz has been scheduled to fight twice. Firstly, he had to withdraw due to injury when he should have been facing Jimmie Rivera. His second scheduled bout was against John Lineker at UFC 233, again he had to withdraw due to an injury.

Cruz has been on our screens, however. He’s taken up an analyst role, which he has performed brilliantly at. He’s kept himself in the spotlight, not within the octagon but very much in the public eye. Countless interviews, features and multiple appearances on various cards, Cruz is not a forgotten man.

Dominick Cruz

SUNRISE, FL – APRIL 27: (L-R) UFC commentators Jon Anik and Dominick Cruz anchor the broadcast during the UFC Fight Night event at BB&T Center on April 27, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

When Cruz Last Competed…

We know that it has been a long, long time since we last saw Dominick Cruz make the walk to the octagon. To put into perspective just how long it’s been, here are a few facts about the last time Cruz fought.

The current middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya was just 9-0 (now 19-0) and was more than a year off making his UFC debut.

Max Holloway had recently beaten Anthony Pettis for the interim featherweight title.

One night later on December 31st 2016, UFC 249 headliner Justin Gaethje made the final defence of his WSOF lightweight title before signing with the UFC.

Two-weight Bellator world champion, Ryan Bader had never fought for the promotion and had recently competed in the UFC.

Strawweight champion, Zhang Weili was just 9-1 (now 21-1) and was over a year and a half from making her UFC debut.

What can we expect from Cruz?

Dominick Cruz has always stated that he doesn’t believe that ring rust exists. He has returned after a prolonged layoff twice previously in his career, both times picking up good results. The first time he had a long layoff was back in 2011. He didn’t return then until 2014 where he TKO’d Takeya Mizugaki in just over a minute.

The second time Cruz had to take time away from the octagon was following the Mizugaki fight in 2014. On this occasion, he didn’t return until 2016. On his return, however, he dethroned bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who had been on a tear prior to their bout.

Will ring rust be a factor in Cruz’s fight with Cejudo at UFC 249? If you ask him, it certainly won’t be. Having gone the distance 13 times in his career, including going the 25-minute distance seven times, Cruz always has phenomenal cardio. This fight won’t be like Cejudo’s bantamweight title fight with Marlon Moraes because we can’t expect Cruz to fade as the rounds go on.

Expect plenty of back and forth between these two during fight week and also expect both men to put on a show in UFC 249’s co-main event!

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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