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Former champion Dominick Cruz eyes potential August return, targeting bout with Takeya Mizugaki

The last time fans saw former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz compete inside the octagon was all the way back at UFC on Versus 6. That was nearly three years ago.

After suffering a series of knee injuries, which started with a severe ACL tear while filming The Ultimate Fighter 15 back in 2012, Cruz was finally slated to make his return to the octagon against interim bantamweight champion Renan Barão in the main event of UFC 169 this past February.

However, the Alliance MMA product suffered yet another set back in the form of a groin tear less than a month before their title unification bout. This injury resulted the UFC stripping Cruz of the belt he had carried since his days as the WEC champion.

But according to a report on UFC Tonight, Cruz’s coach, Eric Del Fierro, recently revealed that the former champion could make his much-anticipated return to the octagon as early as UFC 177 — which is set to take place on Aug. 30.

The fight Cruz (19-1) and his team are currently targeting would come against the streaking Takeya Mizugaki, the eighth-ranked bantamweight on the official Power MMA fighter rankings, as a win would put him “right back in the mix” for a title shot.

Mizugaki (20-7-2) is riding an impressive five fight-winning streak, with the most recent victory coming in a unanimous decision over Francisco Rivera at UFC 173 in May 2013.

However, a matchup against Cruz would most likely have to wait until late September as Mizugaki recently went under the knife to treat a serious infection deep inside his ear canal.