Dominick Rojelio Cruz (born March 9, 1985) is an American professional mixed martial artist, who is currently signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He is a two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion and was also the final bantamweight titleholder of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).
Cruz is noted for his unorthodox movement, powerful wrestling base, quick striking, and his tendency to attack from angles in a unique fashion unlike any other fighter on the UFC roster. He won the WEC bantamweight title in March 2010, and won the inaugural UFC Bantamweight Championship the following December. After defending the belt twice in 2011, Cruz was sidelined by injuries in 2012 and subsequently stripped of the title in 2014. On January 17, 2016, he regained the bantamweight championship with a split-decision win over T.J. Dillashaw. Numerous media outlets called this victory the greatest comeback story in MMA history.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Fighting style
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 Mixed martial arts record
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Dominick Rojelio Cruz was born on March 9, 1985, in San Diego, California, and is of Mexican descent. He lived with his single mother, grandmother, and brother in a trailer park in Tucson for most of his childhood. He attended Flowing Wells High School, and competed in amateur wrestling.
In addition to fighting, Cruz is an MMA analyst for ESPN.
Early mixed martial arts career
Cruz began his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career in 2005, competing in the Rage in the Cage and Total Combat organizations. He amassed a record of 9-0 before joining World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).
World Extreme Cagefighting
His first fight in the WEC was at featherweight in a title fight against Urijah Faber in which he lost by guillotine choke in the first round. The fight would become the beginning of a longstanding cantankerous rivalry between the two.
Cruz defeated Brian Bowles via TKO (doctor stoppage) on March 6, 2010, at WEC 47. Bowles was unable to continue after the second round after breaking his hand. Cruz became the new WEC Bantamweight Champion.
Cruz made his first title defense against Joseph Benavidez on August 18, 2010, at WEC 50. Cruz broke his left hand in the fight. The bout was a rematch of their contest at WEC 42, in which Cruz handed Benavidez his first career loss, via decision. Cruz would later defeat Benavidez again via split decision.
Cruz faced Scott Jorgensen on December 14, 2010, at WEC 53 for both the WEC Bantamweight Championship and the newly created UFC Bantamweight Championship. This bout would be the final Bantamweight Championship fight under the WEC banner and would also crown the inaugural UFC Bantamweight champion, making this the only UFC title fight to take place outside of the UFC. Cruz defeated Jorgensen via unanimous decision to retain the WEC Bantamweight Championship and become the first UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
A rematch with Urijah Faber took place on July 2, 2011, at UFC 132 being the first defense of the new UFC Bantamweight title. In a closely contested fight which saw Faber drop Cruz multiple times with strikes and Cruz landing multiple legbody kicks, knees and takedowns, Cruz defeated Faber via unanimous decision to retain his championship and avenge the only loss on his record at that time.
Cruz defeated Demetrious Johnson via unanimous decision on October 1, 2011, at UFC on Versus 6, his second UFC title defense. Cruz broke his right hand in the first round. Cruz was expected to face Urijah Faber for a third time for the UFC bantamweight championship after Faber defeated Brian Bowles at UFC 139 in a bantamweight title eliminator bout.
String of injuries
In December 2011, Cruz was selected to coach The Ultimate Fighter: Live against opposing coach Urijah Faber. The rubber match between Cruz and Faber was expected to take place on July 7, 2012, at UFC 148. However, on May 7, 2012, Cruz was forced to pull out of the bout citing a torn ACL.
On December 3, 2012, it was revealed that Cruz underwent another ACL surgery after his body rejected one from a cadaver, with an expected recovery time of six to nine months.
Cruz was scheduled to make his return on February 1, 2014, at UFC 169 in a unification bout with interim UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barão. However, on a January 6 episode of SportsCenter, UFC president Dana White announced that Dominick Cruz had torn his groin and vacated the UFC Bantamweight Championship; White promoted Barão to undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champion, and announced that Barão’s first unified title defense would be against Urijah Faber at UFC 169.
After nearly three years away from the sport due to injuries, Cruz returned to the octagon on September 27, 2014, at UFC 178 where he faced Takeya Mizugaki. Cruz won the fight by KO in the first round by punches after getting a takedown. The win also earned Cruz his first Performance of the Night bonus award. At the post-fight press conference, Dana White confirmed that Cruz’s next fight would be for the Bantamweight Championship against T.J. Dillashaw.
Regaining the championship
After over four years since his last title fight, Cruz faced T.J. Dillashaw on January 17, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 81. He regained the title with a split-decision victory. Both participants were awarded Fight of the Night honors. Many have cited the return and victory as one of the greatest comebacks in MMA history.
Cruz faced Cody Garbrandt on December 30, 2016, at UFC 207. Garbrandt won the bout by unanimous decision to become the new UFC Bantamweight Champion. This was the first loss for Cruz in nearly 10 years. Months later, on The Joe Rogan Experience, Cruz revealed that he was plagued by plantar fascia tendinitis throughout training camp that made it difficult for him to walk at times.
Cruz was expected to face John Lineker on January 26, 2019 at UFC 233. It was reported on December 11, 2018 that Cruz injured his shoulder and pulled out of the fight. Subsequently, Cruz indicated that he expects to be out of competition for another year.
Cruz combines constant lateral motion with precise, in-and-out striking. Known as one of the most agile fighters in MMA, he is noted for his quick footwork, head movement, and use of feints. He often attacks with combinations, step-in jabs, and single strikes thrown from angles. In addition to his striking, Cruz has extensive training in amateur wrestling.
Championships and accomplishments
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- UFC Bantamweight Championship (Two times, first)
- Three successful title defenses (two during first reign, one during second reign)
- Fight of the Night (Three times) vs. Urijah Faber, T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt
- Performance of the Night (One time) vs. Takeya Mizugaki
- Most wins in UFC/WEC Bantamweight History (12)
- Tied with T.J. Dillashaw for the most consecutive Bantamweight title defenses in UFC history. – (2)
- UFC Bantamweight Championship (Two times, first)
- World Extreme Cagefighting
- Total Combat
- Total Combat Lightweight Championship
- Total Combat Featherweight Championship
- USA Today
- 2010 Fighter of the Year
- World MMA Awards
- 2014 Comeback Fighter of the Year
- 2015 Analyst of the Year
- 2016 Analyst of the Year
- 2017 Analyst of the Year
Mixed martial arts record
- List of current UFC fighters
- List of male mixed martial artists
- Ultimate Fighting Championship Pound for Pound rankings