Yesterday, UFC President Dana White announced that the UFC will be making a return back to Boston, on January 17. The event will feature current bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, as he takes on the former champ, and number two ranked challenger, Dominick Cruz.
The matchup features two of the UFC’s best, and should be a clinic in regards to footwork. Both Dillashaw and Cruz pride themselves on their ability to create striking through sensational movement, and a fast paced tempo that leaves their opponents tired and struggling to keep pace.
As for the event location itself, like past UFC events in Boston, the fights will take place within the TD Garden. Boston is no stranger to the fight game as it has seen some pretty big names in the octagon before.
The first ever UFC in Boston was UFC 118 in 2010, which saw BJ Penn lose his lightweight title to, then, up and coming fighter Frankie Edgar. Edgar, who is currently looking to claim the belt in the featherweight division, is a training partner with the Dillashaw, as they both fight out of the Team Alpha Male gym in Sacramento, California.
More recently, the UFC saw Conor McGregor put on a show in front of the Boston faithful at UFC: Fight Night 59, back in January. McGregor took on the German, Dennis Siver, and used a terrific mix of striking and finished Siver in the second round. After the fight was over, McGregor leapt over the cage walls and began screaming at current featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, who was in attendance at the event.
It was a fantastic spectacle, and the Boston faithful went nuts. It seems as though the UFC enjoyed what they saw from the fans and have decided to reward this city with another phenomenal headlining fight.
The bout will be Dillashaw’s third title defense, and for Cruz it will be his first title fight since 2011. Cruz lost his belt due to chronic knee injuries which caused him to have a prolonged absence from the sport.
While on paper this could prove to be one of the fights of the year, it is the behind the scenes noise that is attracting the most attention. Cruz, who has been working hard to get back inside the octagon, is fresh off his win against Takeya Mizugaki, at UFC 178. In the bout, Cruz looked to be in old form, and won with a sensational first round TKO.
Cruz was the inaugural bantamweight champion in the UFC when the weight class was adopted from the WEC in 2011. He never lost his belt, but due to a series of knee injuries, he eventually had to relinquish his title, losing it to former champion, Renan Barao. Cruz has a long and difficult road for the past three years as he has tried to deal with his nagging knee problems. It has been an unfortunate process to watch, but I feel as I speak for every MMA fan when I say it is good to have him back, and on the cusp of a title.
Now I doubt anyone is happier about Cruz’ return than Cruz himself. For the past few months, he has been very vocal of the fact that he never lost, and believes that the belt is still rightfully his. That belt, however, now belongs to TJ Dillashaw, and if you ask TJ he’ll say that his belt belongs to one but himself.
The two fighters have mixed words with one another, and on January 17, we, the fans in Boston, will get to see firsthand who the real champ will be. It should be an absolutely wonderful display of technical fighting, and after watching how quickly these two move around the cage, when it’s all over even the fans will be tired.
By Jake Cianci