Former World Extreme Cagefighting and Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz has experienced extraordinary highs and maddening lows during his 16-year career.
The 36-year-old Eric Del Fierro disciple long ago cemented himself as one of the greatest lighter-weight fighters of all-time, even as an inability to stay healthy put a lid on that greatness. Cruz now sports a 23-3 record, having made a successful return to the Octagon with a split decision over Casey Kenney at UFC 259 on March 6. Where he goes from here and whether or not he can reclaim his spot atop the 135-pound weight class remains to be seen. Cruz has not fought more than once in a calendar year since 2016.
As the former champion awaits word on his next assignment from UFC matchmakers, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. Wrestling provided his foundation.
Cruz was a star wrestler at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, Arizona, and appeared to be headed to the University of Northern Colorado—the same school that spawned the career of former World Series of Fighting champion Justin Gaethje—on a scholarship before an injury nixed those plans and forced him to transition to mixed martial arts. He was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at his alma mater in 2012.
2. He hit the ground running in MMA.
“The Dominator” made his professional MMA debut at the age of 19 on Jan. 29, 2005, as he earned a split decision over Eddie Castro at Rage in the Cage 67. Cruz started his career 9-0 before submitting to a guillotine choke from archrival Urijah Faber under the WEC banner in March 2007.
3. His career has been defined by a Midas touch.
Cruz has won championships in three of the four promotions in which he has competed as a mixed martial artist: Total Combat, the WEC and the UFC. The San Diego native has held the Total Combat featherweight and lightweight titles, the WEC bantamweight crown and the UFC bantamweight belt.
4. He became something of a cautionary tale.
The Alliance MMA standout has missed six calendar years due to injury. He did not fight at all in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 or 2019, leaving many—Cruz included—to wonder what might have been. Cruz has endured three long sabbaticals during which countless fights and opportunities were lost: 477 days, 1,092 days and 1,226 days.
5. Subjective eyes admire his work.
Cruz has gone the distance 16 times in his 26-fight career and owns a remarkable 15-1 record in those bouts. Cody Garbrandt remains the only man to defeat him on the scorecards, having done so by unanimous decision in the five-round UFC 207 co-main event on Dec. 30, 2016.
« Previous Alex Caceres to Meet Seung Woo Choi at UFC Fight Night 196 on Oct. 23 Next Rivalries: Johny Hendricks »