Dominick ‘The Dominator’ Cruz will return to the Octagon – and a headlining bout – for the first time since winning a Fight of the Night Bonus for his performance against Pedro Munhoz in a unanimous decision at UFC 269. Across the cage from the two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion will be the only man to be able to claim a victory over Sean O’Malley, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, who finds himself on a three-fight streak since his last loss to Jose Aldo back in December 2020.
To Be the Best, You Gotta Beat the Best
With this Bantamweight banger set to headline a UFC Fight Night (location TBD) on August 13th, it is difficult to see how this isn’t a #1 Contender Fight, given the current state of the Bantamweight division. Assuming TJ Dillashaw or Jose Aldo is next in line for Aljamain Sterling, depending on Dillashaw’s injury progress. Following their bout, both Cruz and Vera will have equal or better streaks than Aldo, who many believe to be more deserving than Dillashaw. However, Aldo has already faced Petr Yan (who remains the #1 Contender) and Sterling has been hinting at a move to Featherweight to allow fellow Serra-Longo Teammate a title shot. One thing is for sure, to paraphrase Max Holloway, to be the best, he gotta beat the best, and Dominick Cruz remains one of the best at Bantamweight.
Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera (19-7-1 MMA, 13-6 UFC)
Born and raised in Ecuador, Vera began training BJJ at age 16, a discipline in which he can claim a black belt. He transitioned to professional MMA after only a year of training as an amateur in 2012, racking up a 6-1-1 record before being cast on TUF: Latin America for Team Werdum in 2014. Vera was forced to pull from the competition due to a skin infection, before being signed to the promotion that same year.
Since then, Vera has claimed the UFC record for most finishes in Bantamweight history with nine, as well as $350,000 in bonuses alone, being awarded POTN bonuses for his finishes of Roman Salazar, Brad Picket, Andre Ewell, and Frankie Edgar, and FOTN for his bouts against Song Yadong, Davey Grant and Rob Font.
Dominick ‘The Dominator’ Cruz (24-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC)
The man, the myth, the legend, arguably the biggest “What if…?” in MMA and undefeated in non-title fights. Where to begin with Dominick Cruz is difficult because so many forget about his pre-UFC run. Cruz was in line to wrestle at a collegiate level, only for his opportunity to lift himself out of the trailer park to be crushed by a senior year injury. After two years working at Lowe’s and studying to be a firefighter at community college, Cruz decided to become a full-time fighter at 20 years of age, in 2005. Amassing a 9-0 record prior to joining the WEC, only to go up a weight class to lose his ‘o’ to a guillotine choke in the very first round to Uriah Faber, beginning the longstanding rivalry between himself and Team Alpha Male.
Cruz would come back from this lone defeat by going on an eight-fight tear in the WEC, winning their Bantamweight belt in the process, a belt he would carry into the UFC after they bought the WEC, and who better to welcome him to the big show than Uriah Faber, who had returned to Bantamweight after his loss to Jose Aldo. Cruz would win the bout via unanimous decision (although no judges were in agreement) and would defend once against Demetrious Johnson, before being forced to vacate the title due to a recurring injury that would take three whole years off his career.
Following a comeback fight against Takeya Mizugaki, whom Cruz finished in 61 seconds, he would face off against TJ Dillashaw, who had claimed the belt in Cruz’s absence, and reclaim the belt via split decision, forcing a rematch with Dillashaw’s Team Alpha Male teammate and mentor, Uriah Faber, which Cruz would again win definitively.
Cruz would lose the belt to surging Team Alpha Male prodigy Cody Garbrandt in his next fight, in what would go down as arguably the greatest performance from an underdog in a title fight ever. However, Cruz would spend the better part of four years out with three separate injuries, before stepping in on short notice for Jose Aldo against Henry Cejudo, who would be the first to finish Cruz via strikes. Cruz has remained fairly active since, stringing together two wins over Casey Kenney and Pedro Munhoz in 2021.
UFC Vegas 55 Lineup
With no venue announced for this August 13th card, and with the popular rhetoric being that they are aiming to completely phase out holding fights in the Apex by the end of the year, could this be the first card on which the UFC returns to Mexico? Given the other names confirmed for this card, it would certainly make for an exciting event in Mexico City. However, obviously, August 13th is a long way away, and the bout order and fights may be adjusted
- Light-Heavyweight: Devin Clark vs. Azamat Murzakanov
- Women’s Bantamweight: Aspen Ladd vs. Sara McMann
- Women’s Flyweight: Alexa Grasso vs. Viviane Araújo
- Women’s Strawweight: Yazmin Jauregui vs. Istela Nunes
- Middleweight: Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bruno Silva
- Heavyweight: Łukasz Brzeski vs. Martin Buday
Who do you think takes the main event, and where would you like to see this card take place? Should we get Chito and Cruz in the Apex, or does it deserve a crowd?
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images