Can Dominick Cruz Reclaim Gold at UFC 249?

On May 9th in Jacksonville, Florida, ex-bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will return from a 3.5-year layoff, immediately getting a shot at the bantamweight belt he lost back in Dec. 2016. His return comes against arguably the hottest fighter in the sport, Henry Cejudo. The current 135-pound king rides a five-fight win streak into this Saturday’s card and has captured two different title belts in that time.

While Cruz is undoubtedly one of the best bantamweights in the history of the division – and one who has successfully returned from long spells of inactivity before – he enters UFC 249 a sizable +170 to +180 underdog according to SportsBettingDime, depending on which sportsbook you’re using.

The realities of the situation are stacked against him. He’s now 35 years old and he will be stepping into the octagon with the best wrestler he’s ever faced. Cejudo is, himself, 33, but the Olympic freestyle gold medalist fought twice in 2019, TKOing both TJ Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes in dominant fashion.

He’s at the absolute peak of his game and still seems to be improving – especially in the striking department – each time he steps into the cage.

Whereas with Dominick Cruz, who reigned as the WEC and early UFC champion, he has been battling serious injury for many years now and although he is vocal from his position as the UFC’s commentator and event broadcast personality about cage rust not being a factor, history shows us that fighters coming back from injury lay offs of over 3 years rarely look like their old selves on the cage.

With all the questions around Cruz it is hard to look past champion Henry Cejudo who has shown consistent improvements in his recent fights against upper echolon competion while Cruz has been sidelined.

Dominick Cruz was ahead of the game for years, using his unique movements to out wit opponents consistently, but lost his last fight against Alpha Male’s Cody Garbrandt and as we all know things change and move on very quickly in MMA.

Make no mistake about it, this is a Mammoth task for Cruz to over come.