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The Perseverance of a Champion

Derek Bowe

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May 7, 2012, is the day everything changed in the life of Dominick Cruz. Riding the high moment of his career after successively defeating his arch nemesis Urijah Faber in July of 2011, avenging the only loss of his career, then returning to defeat Demetrious Johnson in October of that same year. Cruz was in a place where he had everything he could possibly want. The spiral of unfortunate events began that day in May where Cruz was forced to pull out of a scheduled bout in July, again opposite Urijah Faber after the pair had completed their coaching obligations on The Ultimate Fighter Live. The injury revealed to be a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament, a setback that would yield a much more trying time period of life than the bantamweight champion could have ever imagined.

Negative occurrences would only continue to pile onto Dominick Cruz. After some rehabilitation, the cadaver ligament which was used was rejected by Cruz’ body which forced another surgery to remove the ligament. This also meant another six months of recovery at the earliest of expectations. Cruz was emotionally in pieces.

“You realize who is around you for those things you had, the girl leaves, sponsors started falling off. I mean, it all got taken from me.”

Spending the next year recovering yet again, it looked as if the champion would finally be ready for action. February 1, 2014, at UFC 169 Cruz was slated to attempt to unify his belt with the Interim title, which had been captured, as well as defended twice by Renan Barao in his absence. Just a month out from the fight, while anticipation was building for the unification bout, Sportscenter broke the news on January 6, 2014, that Cruz had yet again gotten injured, this time tearing his groin, forcing him out of his match versus Barao. The bad news did not halt there, as Cruz was subsequently stripped of his UFC Bantamweight title, thus Barao was outright named the undisputed champion. This was essentially the staggering blow to the once-king of the bantamweights. The devastated Cruz had hit his low.

“I’ve had everything I have earned completely taken away from me. Being a champion was what held me together to an extent. It was kind of like in my mind, you’re done right now man, you have to be done.”

In some of the darkest hours, the brightest lights can emerge. The obstacles Dominick Cruz knew he to conquer to recapture what was taken from him is journey a lesser person would not embark on. Cruz had made the decision this is not going to be the end, the book would not be closing on his career, not yet.

Cruz chose to go through more rehabilitation in order to continue his fighting career, a career that finally resumed at UFC 178 opposite Takeya Mizugaki on September 24, 2014, where he returned in championship form while making a definitive statement, stopping the surging Mizugaki in the first round by technical knockout. Cruz was back, the only challenge left was getting his belt back from new bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw.

The jubilation was short-lived, as shortly after it was announced he would challenge Dillashaw, Cruz had now torn his anterior cruciate ligament in his other knee, forcing him to the shelf for all of 2015. The comeback had been well on its way, only to have seemingly ran straight into a wall. Cruz set out on another rehabilitation assignment, vowing to get through this one more time.

In combat sports, only one story is comparable to the perseverance shown in recovery through injuries. In the sport if boxing, “Sugar” Ray Leonard had returned after five years of absence, and actual retirement, due to a detached retina, to defeat arguably the pound-for-pound number one fighter in the world, Marvin Hagler in 1987. Cruz was poised to be cut from the same cloth as Leonard, poised to reclaim the title which was once his, from a new dominant champion.

Last night on January 17, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts, the sporting world was treated to something spectacular. The anticipation of the two tactical experts sharing the Octagon together had the mixed martial arts world buzzing, and yet it was here. There were some that believed Cruz would never see the inside of an Octagon again, furthermore to return to championship form. Dominick Cruz bounced, slipped, bobbed, and weaved, out of the way of the vicious strikes of TJ Dillashaw, frustrating the champion early. The movement was back, yet there were still more questions to be answered as the fight progressed. How would his cardio hold up? If Dillashaw lands to his knees would they sustain? Does he have the leverage to wrestle offensively and defensively? Dominick Cruz answered all of those questions last night. Though Dillashaw fought valiantly, making for a tight decision in the judges eyes, it was Cruz who had emerged champion yet again.

“The best part was being able to look at everyone, and see how happy they were, that was neat, that was cool.”

Dominick Cruz had completed his remarkable journey back to the top,  cementing one of the greatest stories grit, and perseverance. The fairytale story had become a reality just as the words were uttered by Bruce Buffer, “AND NEW!”.

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Events

*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results

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The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.

An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.

The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.

UFC Winnipeg Official Results:

MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: 
  • #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
    • Result: 
  • #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: 
  • #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: 

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT

  • #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: 
  • Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: 
  • Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result:  
  • Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
  • John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT

  • Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
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Fight Announcements

Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando

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The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.

It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.

Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.

In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.

Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.

In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.

UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

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Fight Announcements

Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.

Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.

First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)

Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.

Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.

Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.

In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.

UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira

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