Dominick Cruz

One of the most nimble combatants in MMA, Dominick Cruz is renowned for his rapid footwork, head movements, and use of feints.
Dominick Cruz in a file photo [Image-Twitter]

Dominick Cruz was born on March 9, 1985. He is a trained mixed martial artist from the United States. He is a former two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion and presently fights in the Bantamweight division of the organization. Cruz also participated in WEC fights and held the title of WEC Bantamweight Champion throughout the promotion's run. He is ranked #7 in the UFC bantamweight standings as of December 6, 2022.

Cruz stands out among the UFC roster of fighters for his unconventional mobility, strong wrestling foundation, fast striking, and propensity to attack from angles. In March 2010, he won the WEC bantamweight championship, then in December of that same year, he won the first UFC Bantamweight Championship.

Cruz successfully defended the belt twice in 2011, but injuries kept him out of action in 2012, and in 2014, he was stripped of the championship. He successfully defended his bantamweight title against T.J. Dillashaw on January 17, 2016, by way of a split decision. This triumph was hailed as the greatest comeback in MMA history by several media sources.

NameDominick Cruz
D.O.BMarch 9, 1985
Height5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Weight61 kg
OccupationMixed Martial Artist
Professional Debut2005
WifeNot Married
NicknamesThe Dominator

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Cruz is of Mexican origin and was born in San Diego, California. He spent most of his life in a Tucson trailer park with his single mother, grandmother, and brother. He began wrestling in the eighth grade and continued to wrestle while attending Flowing Wells High School. He lost the chance to receive a wrestling scholarship at the University of Northern Colorado due to an injury that occurred in his final year. Prior to going into the fire department full-time, Cruz worked as a customer service representative at Lowe’s and attended community college to pursue his firefighter training.

Early Career

Cruz started his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career in 2005, participating in the Total Combat and Rage in the Cage leagues. Before joining World Extreme Cagefighting, he compiled a 9-0 record (WEC).

At WEC 26, he competed in his debut WEC match at featherweight against Urijah Faber for the featherweight championship, which he lost via guillotine choke in the first round. The altercation would mark the start of a protracted, bitter rivalry between the two. Then, on June 7, 2008, at WEC 34, he made his debut for the 135 lb bantamweight division of the WEC by defeating Charlie Valencia by unanimous decision.

Cruz was given the opportunity to defend his championship against Brian Bowles, the current WEC Bantamweight Champion while riding a four-fight winning streak. The match happened on March 6, 2010, at WEC 47. Bowles broke his hand in the second round and was unable to continue, hence Cruz won the fight through TKO. The WEC’s latest bantamweight champion is Cruz.

Cruz faced Joseph Benavidez in his first championship defense. Cruz lost the battle and shattered his left hand. It was a rematch of their WEC 42 fight, in which Cruz defeated Benavidez by the decision to suffer his first career defeat. Cruz maintained his championship after decisively defeating Benavidez once more.

On December 14, 2010, Cruz and Scott Jorgensen fought for the WEC Bantamweight Championship and the newly established UFC Bantamweight Championship at WEC 53. Cruz claimed the WEC Bantamweight Championship and also, became the inaugural UFC Bantamweight Championship by outlasting Jorgensen by unanimous decision.

UFC Career

On October 28, 2010, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting amalgamated. All WEC fighters were moved to the UFC as part of the merger. The first defense of the new UFC Bantamweight championship took place on July 2, 2011, at UFC 132, in a rematch with Urijah Faber. Cruz defeated Faber by a unanimous decision to retain his title and get revenge for the sole loss on his record at the time.

The bout was closely contested, with Cruz hitting many leg-body kicks, knees, and takedowns while Faber repeatedly dropped Cruz with blows. Cruz made his second championship defense at UFC on Versus 6 on October 1, 2011, defeating Demetrious Johnson by unanimous decision. In the opening round, Cruz fractured his right hand.

Cruz was supposed to fight interim UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Baro in a unification match at UFC 169 on February 1, 2014, until having an ACL operation that prevented him from doing so. However, UFC president Dana White revealed on a January 6 SportsCenter episode that Dominick Cruz had torn his groin and vacated the UFC Bantamweight Championship; White then promoted Baro to the position of undisputed champion and revealed that Baro’s first unified title defense would take place at UFC 169 against Urijah Faber.

At UFC 178 on September 27, 2014, Cruz made his return to the octagon after nearly three years out due to injuries. He faced Takeya Mizugaki. Cruz took the opponent down and used punches to KO the opponent in the opening round. Cruz received his first Performance of the Night bonus prize thanks to the triumph. Cruz will challenge T.J. Dillashaw for the Bantamweight Championship in his next match, according to Dana White, who announced the news during the post-fight press conference. Cruz later revealed on December 22, 2014, that he had ruptured the ACL in his other knee, which prevented him from competing in 2015.

Cruz replaced José Aldo at UFC 249 on May 9, 2020, and competed against Henry Cejudo for the UFC Bantamweight Championship after a break of more than three years. Cruz was defeated in the second round via TKO. On March 6, 2021, Cruz and Casey Kenney squared up at UFC 259. He prevailed in a close decision.

At UFC 269 on December 11, 2021, Cruz faced Pedro Munhoz. Despite being knocked down twice in the first round, he won the fight by unanimous decision. The contest was given the Fight of the Night bonus. On August 13, 2022, Cruz was slated to compete against Marlon Vera at UFC on ESPN 41. He was knocked out in the fourth round by a head kick.

Championships and accomplishments

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
    UFC Bantamweight Championship (Two times; inaugural)
    Three successful title defenses (two during the first reign, one during the second reign)
    Fight of the Night (Four times) vs. Urijah Faber, T.J. Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt and Pedro Munhoz.
    Performance of the Night (One time) vs. Takeya Mizugaki
    Most wins in UFC/WEC Bantamweight History (14)
    Tied with T.J. Dillashaw for the most consecutive Bantamweight title defenses in UFC history. – (2)
  • World Extreme Cagefighting
    WEC Bantamweight Championship (One time, final)
    Two successful title defenses
    Fight of the Night (One time) vs. Joseph Benavidez
  • Total Combat
    Total Combat Lightweight Championship
    Total Combat Featherweight Championship
  • USA Today
    2010 Fighter of the Year
  • World MMA Awards
    2014 Comeback Fighter of the Year
    2015 Analyst of the Year
    2016 Analyst of the Year
    2017 Analyst of the Year

MMA records

28 matches 24 wins 4 losses
By knockout 7 2
By submission 1 1
By decision 16 1