Cruz: I will return to UFC ‘in 2014 for sure’

Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC//Getty)

Dominick Cruz hasn’t fought since Oct. 1, 2011. That’s 135 weeks. If and when Cruz actually steps into the Octagon again, more than 1,000 days will have elapsed from the time he improved to 19-1 with a unanimous decision win over Demetirous Johnson.

Despite going through one perhaps the most unfortunate flood of injuries in MMA history, the former UFC bantamweight champion is closing in on his return to the sport.

“I’m getting healthy. I’ll be back this year, in 2014 for sure,” Cruz told UFC Central Radio on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.

UFC Central Radio featuring Dominick Cruz, Ryan Jimmo and Mark Pavelich

In 2012, Cruz tore his ACL during a coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter opposite rival Urijah Faber. One surgery wasn’t enough to repair the damage. After his body initially rejected the new ligament, which was taken from a cadaver, he required a second surgery that kept him on the shelf for the duration of 2013 as well. Once his knee finally healed, he was scheduled to return at UFC 169 in February for a title unification bout with then-interim champ Renan Barao, but another injury forced the 29-year-old out of that bout too. In January, Cruz vacated his title and the interim tag was removed from Barao’s belt.

Cruz’s latest setback was first reported as a groin injury, but it turned out to be much worse than that.

“I tore my quad off my bone in the groin area,” Cruz said. “When you tear something like that, every muscle group in that area shuts off so that you don’t injure more muscle groups.”

Cruz is back in the gym working his way back to 100 percent, but the recovery process isn’t complete just yet.

“The problem I’m having and the thing I’m working on that’s taking so long is rehabbing this leg so I can kick,” Cruz explained. “That’s the only thing I’m really trying to add to [my] game right now is get my kick game back to full par and then I’ll be back in there. I’m just excited, honestly, to fight again. That’s all I’m really looking to do.”

There’s no guarantee Cruz will get a title shot in his first bout back, but that doesn’t bother him.

“I just do what I’m told. I’ve never really picked a fight in my career,” Cruz said. “It’s not like they ever give anybody an easy out in the UFC. That’s exactly why I’m getting healthy.”

Prior to this layoff, the longest the Tucson, Ari., native had gone in between fights at bantamweight was seven months.

During his time away from the cage, Cruz has been used as an analyst for FOX Sports and will be breaking things down Saturday for the UFC Fight Night event in Cincinnati.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Watch UFC Fight Night: Brown vs Silva live Saturday on Sportsnet 360 with prelims starting at 8 p.m. EST and the main card at 10 p.m. EST

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