Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz (19-1) will finally make his long-awaited return to the octagon against Takeya Mizugaki (20-7-2) at UFC 178 on September 27. ESPN originally reported the news.
This comes after three years of inactivity due to a series of knee injuries, which started with a severe ACL tear while filming The Ultimate Fighter 15 in 2012.
The Tucson-born fighter was originally scheduled to make his return against interim title holder Renan Barão in the main event of UFC 169. This would have been Cruz’s first appearance inside the octagon since defending his belt against Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Versus 6 back in 2011.
However a quad injury suffered in training camp would force Cruz to pull out the title unification bout, resulting in the UFC stripping him of his belt and naming Barão the undisputed champion of the 135-pound division.
Barão would go on to defend his belt once before dropping it to T.J. Dillashaw in the main event of UFC 173 last May.
His opponent Mizugaki, currently the eighth-ranked bantamweight according the official Power MMA fighter rankings, has been one of the hottest fighters in the division. His most recent victory was a unanimous decision over Francisco Rivera at UFC 173. Prior to this win he earned four straight decision victories, including back-to-back split decisions over Erick Perez and Bryan Caraway.
UFC 178 is currently scheduled to take place on September 27 in Las Vegas. The highly anticipated rematch between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson is set to headline the night’s main card. A venue for the event has yet to be announced.