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Dominick Cruz blames himself for putting off arm surgery, prolonging injury

Dominick Cruz
Dominick Cruz
Esther Lin/

Arguably the greatest fighter ever to compete at 135 pounds, Dominick Cruz’s time in the UFC has nevertheless been frustrating.

Since being brought over with the rest of the World Extreme Cagefighting roster back in 2011, “The Dominator” has only fought five times inside the Octagon, his tenure with the UFC ravaged by a pair of major knee injuries and more recently a broken arm. That latest setback cost him a bout vs. top contender Jimmie Rivera at UFC 219 in December and seven months later Cruz has yet to be booked for a fight in 2018.

Cruz appeared on The MMA Hour on Monday to give an update on his health and explain how the hope that his arm would heal on its own led to his time on the shelf nearly doubling.

“What happened is broke my arm and the bone didn’t shift, so since it didn’t shift I didn’t get surgery right away,” Cruz told Luke Thomas. “They said, ‘The bone will fill in the gap on its own, it will heal and everything will be okay.’ Three and a half months later, that did not take place. The bone did not fill in and since I did not get surgery, the bone was not strong.

“Three months into my arm breaking, when it initially took place, I now have to go to the doctor and they say, ‘Well, on second thought you do need surgery.’ So that four month injury turns into now a seven, eight month injury.”

Regardless of what he was initially told, Cruz put the responsibility on his own shoulders for making the decision not to get surgery. Having already missed years of his fighting prime recovering from the surgeries to his knees, the thought of going under the knife again was not appealing to the 33-year-old.

He has since had the surgery and returned to the gym, though he is still awaiting clearance from a physician before he can begin negotiating his next fight. That means he can’t give a clear answer to those who have grown impatient with waiting to see him back in action.

“Now that I’ve had the surgery, I’m finally healing and I’m finally training again and doing my thing,” Cruz said. “But I still have time before it’s cleared by the doctor from that surgery. It seems like forever because the first three months I was waiting to heal and it didn’t heal.”

In his absence, Cruz’s rivals have taken hold of the UFC’s bantamweight throne. T.J. Dillashaw, who Cruz defeated by split decision back in January 2016 to reclaim a title that he had to vacate due to his injuries, currently reigns as champion. He fights Cody Garbrandt, the man who took a unanimous decision nod over Cruz the following December to take that same title, at UFC 227 on Aug. 4.

Garbrandt suffered a second-round TKO loss to Dillashaw at UFC 217, but “No Love” was granted an immediate rematch. Now that he’s had time to rest the back injuries that plagued him prior to fighting Dillashaw, Garbrandt is Cruz’s pick to to win this second meeting.

Either way, the outcome isn’t too much of a concern for Cruz since he expects to cross paths with both men again before it’s all said and done.

“I think it’ll go a little bit longer, this one, but I also think that Cody gets it this time and they’re going to end up having a rubber match or something somewhere down the line,” Cruz said. “I don’t care either way, I’m going to end up fighting both these guys, so it doesn’t really matter how their fight goes for me personally. For the world, I think Cody gets it done this time, probably.

“It’s hard to get that title and then to keep it is a whole other thing. It’s a good thing for these guys that they’ve had long breaks in between their defenses, so that’ll really help because they’re probably much more healthy since they had the break.”

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