Dominick Cruz’s UFC 233 bout with John Lineker was scrapped after the former champion sustained yet another serious injury – this time to his shoulder.
Cruz could well be the greatest bantamweight to ever do it.
His legendary run atop the WEC and later UFC 135lb division saw him defend his title against every single challenger – showcasing his unique style of movement that made him something akin to a complex puzzle for his opponent to solve.
A gruesome ACL injury stunted him during his prime years, leaving him sidelined from 2011 to 2015 – a period in which he fought only once, blasting through then-perennial contender Takeya Mizugaki in just over a minute.
He then tore the ACL in his other knee.
You just cannot write this stuff. But Cruz persevered, returning 16 months later once again to win back the belt he never lost in a razor-close decision victory over TJ Dillashaw.
That fight stands as one of the most technical displays of mixed martial arts striking the sport has ever known – from both men.
A third and final showdown against long-time rival Urijah Faber followed – a bout that Cruz won pretty handily before losing his belt to Faber’s protegé Cody Garbrandt in a tour-de-force performance that virtually no-one saw coming.
He was then set to bounce back against Jimmie Rivera at UFC 219 but broke his arm during his preparations.
Now, he has been forced to pull out of his UFC 233 contest with John Lineker due to a shoulder injury.
The man is a living testament to the power of a positive attitude and unbreakable determination and in a recent interview with Ariel Helwani, he explained the heartbreak he is currently feeling after this latest setback.
“I’ve done everything very carefully to make sure that I’m ready for this one. I threw a right hand and as I throw an overhand right I felt a click in my right shoulder and then I felt my fingers go numb.
“Right away I knew something separated because you’re not supposed to get blood flow and numbness to your fingers unless it’s a detrimental injury. So I stopped right away, got out, and I literally left that practice knowing that I told my shoulder and went straight to an MRI.
“My subscapularis is completely torn off and my supraspinatus is 75 percent torn off. So from what I understand, they have to take the tendon and reattach it with a screw of some sort into the bone to get everything reconnected. It’s basically an ACL of the shoulder.” (via MMAFighting)
Whether you’re a fan or not of Cruz, the mental toughness required to continue on in the face of such repeated instances of adversity deserves your respect.
In one particularly transparent section, the former champ broke down the ‘extreme sadness’ he is currently feeling knowing that he could well be sidelined for another year of his fighting career.
“Understanding it really serves no purpose because there is no understanding. It just is what it is. To try to understand it will just take you in a loop that will never end. So I choose to look at this as just the way it is and what can I do with that is the question.
“With all that being said, how I feel is sadness. Extreme sadness, to be honest. It hurts. I want to cry. But I also know that this is a long road that I’ve had already. I’ve already been down this, I’ve had these injuries.
“You can attack whatever you want to this situation but it never defeats me and it never will. It’s just part of my journey and it’s going to be part of my legacy.
“How many people go through life with problems and have to get back up? Life is no different from fighting and that’s why I love fighting so much. Sport is a metaphor to life. . . You never get to quit in life so if you quit in sports, exactly when you quit in sports is exactly when quit at life.
“I’m not the greatest bantamweight of all time despite my injuries. I’m the greatest bantamweight of all time because of my injuries.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena