Despite boasting an impressive professional mixed martial arts record of 19-1, UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz has not fought in over two years.
Cruz tore his ACL in 2012. Like many people who suffer a torn ACL injury, he underwent reconstructive knee surgery to replace his ACL with a cadaver. Unfortunately, his body rejected the cadaver and he was forced to undergo a second ACL surgery. This double disaster surgery has made his recovery especially long and difficult.
Finally, after two surgeries and many months spent rehabilitating his knee, his long awaited return to the octagon is finally here. The UFC has announced that Cruz will fight current UFC interim champion Renan Barao in a title unification bout as the co-main event of UFC 169.
Since Cruz has been injured, Renan Barao has been dominating the bantamweight division. Barao has not lost a fight since 2005, and his current professional record is 31-1-1. His most recent conquests include victories over Scott Jorgensen, Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald, and Eddie Wineland.
Cruz will definitely have his hands full at UFC 169. Barao has fourteen submissions and seven knockouts under his belt. And Cruz might be a little rusty; the guy hasn’t fought in over two years. The UFC actually threatened to take his title away if he didn’t return in early 2014, so this puts a lot of pressure on him mentally.
Another big fight on the card will be featuring Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas. Like Renan Barao, Aldo has also not lost a fight since 2005. The twenty-seven year old Brazilian knockout machine has an impressive record of 23-1, and holds wins over big names like Kenny Florian, Urijah Faber, and Frankie Edgar.
Although Lamas’s record is not as impressive as Aldo’s, he is on a dominant four-fight winning streak. The thirty-one year old is a well rounded fighter that has shown excellent skills in the stand up game, and on the ground.
UFC 169 will air February 1, 2014, the same weekend as the Super Bowl, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.