T.J. Dillashaw to Defend 135-Pound Belt vs. Dominick Cruz at UFC Fight Night on Jan. 17

By Tristen Critchfield Sep 9, 2015
Dominick Cruz will try to reclaim what once was his on Jan. 17. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Once again, Dominick Cruz is on the comeback trail, but this time there won’t be a warm-up fight.

Dana White announced during UFC Tonight on Wednesday that Cruz will face reigning bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw in the headliner of a UFC Fight Night card on Jan. 17. It will be the first title fight to be televised on Fox Sports 1. The event will air on a Sunday evening from a site to be determined after the NFC Championship game. According to an earlier report from UFC Tonight, the former bantamweight champion has been fully cleared to begin MMA training without restriction. Cruz has already begun throwing kicks and will begin live wrestling in the near future.

After nearly a three-year layoff due to multiple injury woes, Cruz scored an emphatic 61-second technical knockout victory against Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 178 in September 2014. UFC President Dana White then declared that Cruz would be the next No. 1 contender to challenge reigning champion T.J. Dillashaw.

However, Cruz suffered a torn ACL in his right knee last December -- he previously suffered two torn ACLs in his left knee -- which nixed any thoughts of a showdown with Dillashaw.

Cruz vacated the 135-pound belt in early 2014 after a groin tear forced him to withdraw from a showdown with Renan Barao at UFC 169. The Alliance MMA product hasn’t lost a fight since falling to Urijah Faber at WEC 26 on March 24, 2007.

Dillashaw, meanwhile, captured the bantamweight strap with a fifth-round TKO of Renan Barao at UFC 173 and hasn’t looked back since. The Team Alpha Male product has successfully defended the belt against Joe Soto at UFC 177 and against Barao again at UFC on Fox 16 this past July. The champion has lost just once in his last nine promotional appearances.


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