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Dana White defends Dominick Cruz receiving title shot after nearly four years off

Dominick Cruz
Dominick Cruz looks to get his title back at UFC Fight Night 81 on Sunday night.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

When he’s finally finished with fighting, Dominick Cruz will be remembered as one of the greatest bantamweight fighters in the history of the sport.

Unfortunately, he’ll also be remembered as an athlete whose career was ravaged by injuries with several multi-year absences from action due to the various struggles he’s had staying healthy. The last time Cruz appeared in the UFC was in 2016 when he lost a unanimous decision to Cody Garbrandt in a fight that cost him the 135-pound title.

Since then, Cruz has been sidelined by various injuries including a broken arm and shoulder surgery that has kept him out of action. Despite the long layoff, Cruz will jump right back into a title fight at UFC 249 when he faces reigning champion Henry Cejudo in the co-main event on May 9.

Of course, Cruz’s title shot came together after former featherweight king Jose Aldo was ruled out of the fight due to travel restrictions getting into the United States due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Still, Cruz receiving an opportunity to compete for the title coming from a loss coupled with nearly four years off had many higher ranked bantamweights scratching their heads about the UFC’s decision making.

“He’s still one of the best in the world,” UFC president Dana White said to ESPN on Instagram about Cruz when asked why he’s receiving a title shot. “He’s a guy who has been incredibly plagued with injuries throughout his career but he’s still looked at as one of the best in the world.

For a guy like Henry Cejudo, who is literally willing to fight anybody and wants to fight all the best, you want the Jose Aldo’s, the Dominick Cruz’s and those types of guys on your resume.”

Several bantamweight contenders have raised questions about Cruz receiving a title shot under these circumstances but regardless the former bantamweight champion will get the opportunity to reclaim the title on May 9.

Cruz does have history to prove the long layoff won’t determine his outcome after he was out for nearly three years previously and came back to dismantle Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 178 and then got knocked out of action for another 16 months before winning back the bantamweight title from T.J. Dillashaw in 2016.

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