There is a lot of fantastic mixed martial arts on display this weekend from Invicta FC 15 that is streaming on Fight Pass, on January 16, to UFC Fight Night 81, on January 17. There is one bout that stands above the rest, the bantamweight title fight between current champion T.J. Dillashaw and the former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

UFC bantamweight champion, Cruz was out for three years with multiple injuries, one after another, but when he finally came back in September of 2014, he spoke loudly with his phenomenal performance, stopping top 5 bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki in the first round and with that told everybody, ‘The Dominator’ was back.

In Cruz’s long absent from competition there has been two champions, Renan Barao, who defended the title three times before getting dethrone by the current champion T.J. Dillashaw in what was a massive upset from a betting odds perspective.

Dillashaw has now defended the title twice since winning it, against Joe Soto and a rematch against Barao, and all of Dillashaw’s title fights has been awarded with either ‘Performance of the Night’ or ‘Fight of the Night’, his first fight with Barao, he was awarded both. It probably goes without saying, Dillashaw has looked supreme since he claimed the bantamweight mountain.

It is without a doubt Cruz who is the most unlucky guy when it comes to injuries. He has had three ACL injuries, two in his left knee, one in the right and also a groin injury in the middle of all that. Cruz future in the sport looked very dark at one point of his career.

His latest ACL injury came after his monumental victory against Mizugaki were he expressed on his personal Facebook account the sadness and frustration of the latest injury.

But now, again, he is back to prove that ring-rust doesn’t exist, that it just is a frame of mind, and there is one thing we know about ‘The Dominator’, he has always had a champions mindset. Yet, if there is something that is going to test his mental- and physical strength, it is Dillashaw. As earlier stated, since becoming champion, Dillashaw has looked fantastic and terrifying at the same time. Each and every time we see him out in the Octagon he has gotten better and better, and his elusive footwork and striking has been remarkable to witness as a fan. Nothing seems to be stopping this train, can Cruz rise to the occasion and be the one to derail it?

Many has compered the similarities in their use of footwork, and there are similarities sure, but some clear differences as well. Dillashaw stands and moves inside the pocket when he shines the brightest and Cruz is more on the outside where he hits and moves away from the counter. Until recently, it would be clear that Dillashaw is more dangerous in his approach but since the stoppage victory in Cruz latest fight and the inactivity he has had, we really don’t know exactly what we will witness from Dominick in this match from otherwise being mostly known for dominating on the scorecards and usually won’t finish his challengers.

The respective athletes resumes are equally impressive, Dillashaws most spectacular wins is unequivocally his two victories over Barao, who was seen as unbeatable in his time on the throne. Where Cruz has beaten names as Urijah Faber and Demetrious Johnson in the UFC, Johnson who later moved down in weight and became the current flyweight title holder, and has since been a very dominant one at that.

They say ‘MMA math’ doesn’t work when trying to figure out who has the best chance of beating whom, and that is true, but it’s damn fun speculating when it comes to a long awaited and intrigued filled match-up like what we have for the main event of UFC Fight Night 81, on Sunday, January 17.

About The Author

Christian Larusson
Staff Writer

Christian Larusson is a passionate Mixed Martial Arts fan. With experience in writing for Swedish MMA sites, he now solely writes in English through blogging, PunchDrunkSports and The MMA Corner. Got his heart broken early in his life when a friend, ‘Judas’, told him that WWE/WWF wasn’t real. Then one day, he saw MMA on a friend's computer, he was overwhelmed with emotions from what his eyes had just seen. He´s been in love ever since. Christian has been published in different Swedish papers and books, nothing to do with MMA though, so who gives a shh-.