Former two-time UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz is set to make his return to the octagon. Coincidentally, it will come a year to the day of his memorable loss to Cody Garbrandt, which cost him his 135lb title. The UFC announced on Wednesday that Cruz would meet Jimmie Rivera at UFC 219 on December 30. It’s a chance for Cruz to earn another shot at either Garbrandt or T.J. Dillashaw, who will meet at UFC 217.
For Jimmie Rivera, it’s a chance to take out a second legend of the sport, following his defeat of Urijah Faber at UFC 203 last year. Rivera (21–1) has been perfect in the UFC, and has not lost since 2008, in what was his second pro fight. A win over Cruz will make it hard to argue against a title shot for the New Jersey native nicknamed “El Terror.” He previously told Cageside Press that he felt he should be next in line with a win at UFC on 25, which he captured in July.
Cruz (22–2) did not lose between a 2007 defeat at the hands of Faber and the Garbrandt loss last year. During that stretch he defeated Faber twice, Takeya Mizugaki, and T.J. Dillashaw, among others. That made the loss to Garbrandt shocking, and all the more so given how one sided the Team Alpha Male product’s victory was.
UFC 219 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 30. No main event has been announced for the card. A women’s strawweight bout between Cynthia Calvillo and former champ Carla Esparza is also official for the event.