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UFC Fight Night 81: Dominick Cruz Defeats T.J. Dillashaw to Win Bantamweight Title

Dominick Cruz has worked extremely hard to regain the title he never lost. After one fight in the past four years, nearly a year-and-a-half layoff while needing to forfeit his title, all of Cruz’s patience has paid off. The 30 year old California native defeated T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 81 to become the new UFC Bantamweight Champion. Cruz won by split decision (48-47, 46-49, 49-46). After three ACL surgeries and a torn groin, the first ever Bantamweight Champion for the UFC is back on top.


In a very hard fought match, Dillashaw (12-3) and Cruz (21-1) gave it their all on the Fox Sports 1 special at the TD Garden in Boston. While Cruz won the bout, Dillashaw showed why he was the champion, holding his own against the veteran. For five rounds, each competitor punched, kicked and grappled their way to an instant classic. There are those who stated that Dillashaw truly won the fourth and fifth rounds, and should have retained the title. I would agree just by seeing Cruz’s demeanor and how he was trying to hide a leg injury. Dillashaw’s brutal kicks played a huge factor in the fourth round. In the end, it appeared Cruz’s aggressive style and resilience was the deciding factor.


To say that the announcement of Cruz’s victory was a shock was an understatement. Announcer Bruce Buffer made sure to add suspense into the results. You can clearly hear the disbelief in the crowd, and see it with the reaction of the fighters.


After the announcement, Cruz silenced doubters of his layoff from the ring, saying, “There’s no such thing as rust. Rust does not exist unless you don’t train hard enough.” Cruz’s comeback story is phenomenal, once again the king of the mountain after being chopped down so many times due to unfortunate injuries. After having to forfeit his title and fight his way back to the octagon, Cruz finally has his redemption.

T.J. Dillashaw, clearly upset of the result, stated after the fight, “I felt like I won decisively. I felt like I won the fight. I want to do it again.” After successfully defending the title twice before last night, Dillashaw has proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the Bantamweight Division of the UFC.

A rematch between these two fighters would be phenomenal, and I’m sure Dana White is currently looking at his calendar for potential dates. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: it will truly be an epic bout.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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