After years of layoffs due to injury starting from as far back as 2011, it seems as though Dominick Cruz’s victory over TJ Dillashaw to regain the belt and another victory over longtime rival Urijah Faber were not all that long ago. Maybe it is due to his presence as an analyst at most of the major UFC events that make it feels like less time has passed but it has actually been nearly 18 months since we last saw Cruz and his fancy footwork in the cage where he lost the belt to a very game Cody Garbrandt back in December 2016 at UFC 207.
Cruz was scheduled to fight current 4th ranked bantamweight Jimmie Riveria at UFC 219 but had to be pulled from the card due to a broken arm as reported by mmafighting.com at the time of the event in December of last year. Since then Dominick has returned to training and has been quoted this past weekend at UFC 224 as saying he will be back by the end of the year.
"Before the end of the year, I'm coming back" ~ Dominick Cruz#UFC224
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) May 13, 2018
Although there have been some skeptical comments such as “The end of which year?” It is still an interesting notion to investigate who would likely be the next in line for former champion Cruz. It seems likely that as much as he may wish to get another title shot straight away that is unlikely to happen. Current champion Dillashaw has been slated for a rematch with number one contender and former champion Cody Garbrandt at UFC 227. That would mean unless Cruz manages to secure a title shot against the winner in late December, which would be a two-year hiatus from the Octagon, it is likely he would need to win another fight to put himself back in title contention. After a dominant performance in April current eighth-ranked bantamweight, Aljamain Sterling called out Cruz who quite quickly dismissed Sterling as a possible future match up. A probable matchup for Cruz could be John Lineker who is coming off an exciting performance this past weekend at UFC 224. This would be an exciting fight pairing the elusiveness of Cruz with the heavy hands and forward charging style of Lineker and could provide the return needed to put Cruz’s name back into the title shot conversation.