Returning Dominick Cruz vs. Takeya Mizugaki set for UFC 178

Esther Lin

Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will get a meaningful fight in his long-awaited return to action.

Cruz, who has been sidelined by injuries for the past two-and-a-half years, will meet veteran Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 178 on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas. ESPN.com reported the bout on Tuesday.

The San Diego-based fighter was world bantamweight champion dating back to winning the WEC title from Brian Bowles on March 6, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio. A successful defense against Scott Jorgensen on the final WEC event on Dec. 16, 2010 also made him the inaugural UFC 135-pound champ.

Cruz was scheduled to face Urijah Faber in a trilogy bout at UFC 148, following a season spent coaching The Ultimate Fighter, but a torn ACL forced him to pull out of the fight. In his absence, Renan Barao became interim champion. Cruz was scheduled to return and face Barao at UFC 169 in February, but Cruz suffered a groin injury. At that point, the UFC stripped Cruz of the belt and made Barao champ. Barao has since lost to T.J. Dillashaw.

Cruz (19-1), whose last fight was an Oct. 2011 decision victory over current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, meets an opponent on the hottest streak of his Zuffa career.

Mizugaki (20-7-2), of Kanagawa, Japan, made his first impression on North American fans with a memorable battle against Miguel Torres on short notice in a 2009 WEC title fight. Mizugaki has won five fights in a row, the last one a decision over Francisco Rivera at UFC 173.

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