Takeya Mizugaki 2 The former bantamweight champion could be returning to the cage this summer for the first time in nearly three years. It was reported this week on UFC Tonight that Dominick Cruz, the former UFC bantamweight champion, is targeting a return to the Octagon at UFC 177, which is set to take place August 30 in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to Cruz’ head coach at Alliance MMA in San Diego, Eric Del Fierro, their camp wants Cruz to take on top contender Takeya Mizugaki in his comeback match. With a win over Mizugaki, Cruz would put himself very close to getting another crack at the belt at 135lbs. Cruz has not fought since October 2011, when he defeated current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson via five-round unanimous decision in a tactical affair. Overall Cruz defended the UFC/WEC bantamweight title four times between 2010 and 2011 before suffering a major knee injury in 2012 that has kept him out of the cage for over two years now. However, it should be noted that he currently has one of the longest winning streaks of any fighter in the division with 10-straight victories over the likes of Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles, Joseph Benavidez, Scott Jorgensen, Ian McCall, and the aforementioned Johnson. Despite missing so much time, the UFC let him hold onto his belt until last year, when enough was enough and the promotion stripped the title from him and gave it to interim bantamweight champ Renan Barao. UFC president Dana White said that Cruz would garner an immediate title shot upon his return to the cage, but with TJ Dillashaw upsetting Barao and taking the title this past May at UFC 173, it makes more sense for Cruz to fight someone else before getting another crack at the belt. A fight between Cruz and Mizugaki would be excellent, and it would help determine where exactly “The Dominator” fits in the division at the current time. At one point he was considered one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but after missing so much time with injury and having so much cage rust, it makes sense for him to fight someone first before getting his title shot, and the matchup between Mizugaki makes a whole lot of sense. If this fight goes does, Cruz would enter the fight as a slight favorite but with so much time off and with Mizugaki on such a nice streak at the moment, there’s no way it’s a gimme fight by any means and there could certainly be an upset brewing if Cruz isn’t anywhere close to what he used to look like.


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