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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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Interviews

Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Announcement

Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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Announcement

*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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