UFC 219 fight card: Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera added to end-of-year event Sport News

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UFC 219 fight card: Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera added to end-of-year event Sport News

Ten months after losing his bantamweight championship, Dominick Cruz has agreed to make his return on Dec. 30 at UFC 219, UFC announced on Wednesday

Cruz (22-2), considered the greatest 135-pound fighter in MMA history, will complete a one-year layoff when he faces top contender Jimmie Rivera (21-1), who is unbeaten in UFC and rides an incredible 20-fight win streak. 

The 32-year-old Cruz will look to bounce back from a clear decision loss to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 last December. The defeat was his first in 13 bouts dating back to a submission loss to Urijah Faber at WEC 26 in 2007.

After fighting just once between 2012 and 2015 because of a devastating string of major injuries, Cruz made three appearances in 2016 and briefly regained his former title by outpointing TJ Dillashaw by split decision. 

Rivera, 28, is 5-0 with UFC and fresh off a pair of impressive decision wins over Faber and Thomas Almeida. 

The fight has the potential to be a real crossroads’ affair as Cruz looks to bounce back and preserve his status as a pound-for-pound elite against the upstart Rivera. A victory could put the winner on the verge of a title shot against the winner of Cruz-Dillashaw on Nov. 4 at UFC 217 in New York. 

UFC 219, which takes place New Year’s weekend in Las Vegas, is expected to be among the promotion’s biggest events of the year. Although a main event has yet to be announced, UFC also added a quality women’s strawweight bout to the card between Cynthia Calvillo and former champion Carla Esparza. Flyweight Louis Smolka will also meet Matheus Pereira. 

UFC 219 fight card: Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera added to end-of-year event Sport News

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UFC 219 fight card: Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera added to end-of-year event Sport News

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