It has been a frustrating time for Dominick Cruz over the last two years, to put it mildly. Just over two years ago he was a coach on The Ultimate Fighter and was tuning up for his trilogy fight against bitter rival and opposing coach Urijah Faber. More importantly, he was the UFC Bantamweight Champion.
After tearing his ACL and pulling out of the fight with Faber, 'The Dominator' had a long spell of rehab to treat his knee injury. Just when he was fit to fight since October 2011 and scheduled to meet Interim Champion Renan Barao at UFC 169, a groin injury forced Cruz out again.
The result... the loss of his UFC Bantamweight Title due to a prolonged period of inactivity.
The Californian native, 19-1, is still looking to return in 2014. There has been plenty of speculation over whether he should get another immediate title at Renan Barao. After all, he didn't lose the title in the Octagon, but by a cruel path of injuries that has haunted him for the last few years.
UFC President Dana White has recently said if Cruz wants an immediate shot at the 135lbs belt, he'll get one.
Speaking to MMAFighting on the issue, Cruz has said:
"I never chose my fights in any part of my career, and even when I was going for the title fights (at UFC 169), that was because I was a titleholder. I felt that, being a titleholder, why would I ever, ever take a step back and not fight for the title?
"Even if, let's say I was to go in there and just get mopped up (against Barao), that was the place that I was in. That was where I deserved to be, that title shot. I don't believe I would've gotten mopped up and I believe, still, in my heart, that I'm the best 135-pounder in the world when I can get back to full health. But I've never chosen my fights, and I'm not going to start now.
"Whatever they give me, I'm going to do. Things are going to fall into place. I'll be right back in the position as long as I deserve it, and I'll work my way through however I need to.
"I'm not stressing about it because my first love is fighting, and if I need to fight, I don't care who I gotta fight. I just can't wait to get back in there, to be honest."
If Cruz is wise, he should turn down the title shot if he is offered it by the UFC. Ring rust is one thing, but ring rust with a devastating injury is another.
Cruz relies on his movement in the Octagon. His unorthodox style stumbles fighters and this allows him to really dominate them. However, he could do none of this without his movement. Cruz must have a tune up fight to get back into the rhythm of throwing his strikes from unorthodox angles and importantly gain confidence within his knee and movement.
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