Did the UFC just set Dominick Cruz up to get mauled?

Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz looks to have a big fight lined up against one of the UFC's hardest punchers.

By: Zane Simon | 3 months ago

Former multiple-time UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has hardly had an easy run of things over his twelve years with the UFC. After picking up his title belt in the WEC, Cruz seemed primed for a long run as champion, and rattled off defenses over likely future Hall of Fame talents Urijah Faber and Demetrious Johnson. Then the injuries started to hit.

Cruz was sidelined for 3 years due to knee and groin issues. He returned briefly, for a dominating win over Takeya Mizugaki in 2014, but tore a ligament in his other knee shortly afterward and wouldn’t fight again until 2016.

Amazingly, Cruz came back from the better part of four years of inactivity to once again win the bantamweight title with a narrow split decision over TJ Dillashaw. Another title defense against Faber followed before Cody Garbrandt put up what was to become the single greatest performance of his career to wrest away the belt in 2016. More injuries for Cruz followed soon afterward.

Since coming back again… again in 2020, Cruz hasn’t looked like the same fighter. It’s no huge surprise given that he’s on the wrong side of 35 with a game built on speed, and has had more severe injuries than the average NFL team over a full season. But, for a fighter that went through the first 13 fights of his UFC career having never been officially knocked down, Cruz has now tasted the canvas seven times in his last five fights (including three knockdowns in his last bout against Marlon Vera). That gives some reason to pause about the UFC’s latest fight announcement.

Report: Dominick Cruz to welcome Deiveson Figureiredo to bantamweight

Igor Ribeiro of Brazilian sports news site Quinto Quarto reports that Figueiredo has verbally agreed to a fight with Dominick Cruz in September, and that his management team is currently finalizing the details to make the bout official.

“Just need the contract to arrive,” Figueiredo revealed a video interview. “I’m training. I hope it works out so we can make it happen.”

“My manager is talking. It will now be for September. Let’s see if we close now. I want to test myself at 61.2 kg. Dominick Cruz is a former champion, too, a good guy. Talented from the start. Fighting him will be a great honor.”

Considering that Figueiredo is only 3-years younger than Cruz, and that both men are former champions, it wouldn’t necessarily seem like this is such a bad booking. But advanced statistics tell a different story.

Deiveson Figueiredo is a power punching monster

The kind of power punching that ‘Deus da Guerra’ puts on display in his bouts isn’t just anomalous for a flyweight. As of 2020, Figueiredo ranked 13th among all ranked UFC fighters in knockdowns per 15 minutes of fighting.

As our own Paul Gift noted back in 2020, heading into UFC 256, Figueiredo dropped opponents in 35% of his rounds. Basically at least one time in every fight the man puts his opponents on the canvas. Recent history hasn’t bolstered that number so much, with Figueiredo failing to get a knockdown on Brandon Moreno in 3 of their four bouts. But it also has to be noted that he dropped Moreno three times at UFC 270 back in January of last year.

Considering that Moreno is one of the most ungodly durable fighters in the UFC today, I think it’s safe to assume that Figuieredo still packs a hell of a punch. If Cruz’s chin is as much in decline as it’s looked lately, this has all the makings of a very violent collision for the ‘Dominator.’

Surprise plan from Figueiredo

Go back to February, and an announcement that Figueiredo was headed up to bantamweight for a fight with Cruz would have seemed perfectly natural. Following his second loss to Moreno at UFC 283, the Brazilian seemed to make it clear that he’d be leaving flyweight behind him for the foreseeable future.

Come April, however, that all appeared to change, with the 35-year-old announcing that he would be remaining at flyweight for at least three more bouts.

“That fight will have to wait,” Figueiredo said of a rumored bantamweight booking against Rob Font. “I’ve been talking to my coaches and my manager. We decided that I’m going to have three more fights at flyweight. It’s not the time to leave flyweight yet. I confess that I do want to move up to bantamweight. However, my team did not allow it. I work with my team, I don’t work alone. They want me to stay, so we’re doing more fights.”

It’s not clear what caused this latest shift, then. Maybe the opportunity to face a name like Cruz was just too good to pass up. Until the ink is 100% dry on the contracts, however, maybe it’d be a good idea to take any of Figueiredo’s future plans with a little grain of salt.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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