UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz has only been beaten a single time in his career and the stumble came six years ago to Urijah Faber. Since then, Cruz has proven himself as one of the sport’s best, beating a number of notable opponents in large part due to his footwork and speed. However, those two qualities have made Cruz’s comeback from knee surgery more difficult than might be the case if he employed a different style inside the cage.
Cruz suffered his second of two torn ACLs in December and has been diligent in his rehabilitation. Though Cruz is itching to go full speed, “The Dominator” knows his career could be on the line this time around. As such, while dialing it back may be tough, Cruz can’t risk the potential effects of pushing too hard.
“It’s the complete opposite of everything I’m used to. I’m used to being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, how I want to do it. That’s just how I am. That’s not been an option for me and it’s tough,” explained Cruz in a recent interview with Bleacher Report. “Anyone who believes they’re a champion, it’s not in their makeup to say ‘Don’t push yourself, you can’t do that because you’ll hurt yourself.’ It’s just taken my brain to a whole different dynamic altogether.”
“It’s really forced me to kind of slow things down and take my time doing things,” he continued. “Not only so I don’t hurt myself, but also so I can break down and look at the things that have made me get injured in the past or ways to train safer. It’s everything and it’s given me a different outlook. It’s tough – I want to be competing, I want to be fighting now, I want to be fighting last month, but I have to listen to the doctors.”
The 26-year old still isn’t sure when he’ll be ready to fight again, but if he has his way he’ll be walking down to the Octagon with his belt in tow. Cruz hasn’t fought since October 2011 due to his health-related woes and seen Renan Barao crowned as interim champion during his hiatus from in-ring action.
“In a perfect world, I keep my title and I come back and beat down Barao. In the business world, I don’t know how Dana White‘s visualizing this situation. I don’t know what he’s dealing with,” said Cruz. “I work for the UFC and I love everything that they’ve done for me, and that’s about all I can say. I’m preparing to come back and fight for my title. That’s all I can do, I can’t make the decision. That’s up to Dana. No doubt in my mind that I’m still the champion, I’m still the best in the world, and when I come back I will do just fine against a guy like Renan Barao.”
White, the UFC President, has said Cruz will retain his title unless he suffers another serious affliction putting him on the sidelines for an extended period of time. Barao is currently scheduled to face Eddie Wineland on June 15 at UFC 161, while Cruz will spend the next few weeks as co-host on UFC Tonight.
PHOTO CREDIT – MMAWEEKLY