UFC 178 is a pay-per-view with many story lines, and one of the most compelling is the return of former WEC and UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz. Considered to be one of the most dominant bantamweights of all time, Cruz is set to fight this coming Saturday for the first time in almost exactly three years.

After suffering two knee injury’s and a groin tear, he is finally healthy, and on Saturday night he will face Takaya Mizugaki in his first non-title fight since 2009. Three years is a long time in any sport, but in the sport of MMA that time can feel like an eternity to fighters.

Since having his belt stripped due to inactivity the division has had two champions, Renan Barao and now the Team Alpha Male product T.J. Dillashaw. Cruz’s nemesis, Urijah Faber, is still lurking in the top-three and is very much a contender. His opponent this Saturday, No. 5-ranked Mizugaki, is also in the contender conversation due to an admirable 5 fight winning streak in the competitive division.

The winner of Cruz vs. Mizugaki, may find themselves next in line to fight the current Champ, which is no doubt of great importance. But the question on many minds is simple; is Cruz the same fighter he once was? Time off and injuries are factors that can set back any athlete. One thing we do know about Cruz, he is a true champion. Having had only one loss in his 20 fight career, which he later avenged, you can not question his talent or is dedication. If any many can overcome the challenges that Cruz has had to face, it is him. At UFC 178 Cruz will have to overcome a tremendous hurdle in facing Mizugaki, but if he does it could land him in a title fight at best, or a #1 contender bout to say the least.

Less than a year ago when Cruz was set to return against then intermin-champion Renan Barao, it was the talk of the town. Leading into this fight it almost feels as though no one wants to jinx it. Being less than a week out let’s hope that he has a good fight week and come Saturday night he will be standing inside the Octagon opposite Mizugaki.

Regardless of the outcome this is not a fight to miss. Even without the Jon Jones vs. Daniel Comier main event, UFC 178 is still looking to be one of the best pay-per-view events of 2014, and the return of Dominick Cruz in the marquee bout of the prelims is certainly a part of the equation.

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.