Generally, when one hears a fighter has been out of combat sports for three years as was the case with Dominick Cruz heading into UFC 178, there are a couple of things typically expected.
“Ring rust” can often coming into play after more than a few months out of action. Fighters can train hard, spar, but nothing prepares you to fight like a real fight.
When a fighter is out of all MMA competition for three years after repeated injury, and has already reached championship heights and had a terrific career.
He might just be done as a high-level athlete.
Dominick Cruz is not done. He is back with the ultimate vengeance.
To prove just that, he put on perhaps a career-best performance, dare I say, dishing out a brutal beating and first-round KO over Takeya Mizugaki.
Mizugaki is no slouch. He was ranked #5 in a UFC rankings system not even applied the last time Cruz fought, and had been on a whopping five fight win streak.
Cruz looked like an uncrowned champion, who obviously didn’t lose any traction since he last fought. He is the next in line for the UFC title, without question.
TJ Dillashaw may as well be fighting for the belt all over again, as Cruz, well, Cruz never lost it, and he’s unlikely to let it slip through the cracks if he faces the Team Alpha Male fighter.
The story is a little bit different for Cat Zingano, who went life and limb with Amanda Nunes on the same September 27th UFC event.
Zingano was subject to a first-round spell of ring rust, and absorbed vicious ground and pound from her return opponent, Nunes, through this period. She needed to mount a comeback if she wished to remain the #1 contender for UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey after a 17-month injury hiatus.
Zingano did just that. Overpowering Nunes, and stopping her in the third frame of an electrifying contest.
UFC president Dana White announced that she, not Gina Carano, would be fighting for the UFC title next after besting Nunes. Rousey vs. Zingano is tentatively scheduled for UFC 182, January 3rd of 2015.
Maybe she can take down the champ after many months of longing for the opportunity. It just goes to show the perseverance of a world-class mixed martial artist!