05 Dec - 
Dominick Cruz set for return vs. John Lineker at UFC 233 after two-year layoff

Could former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz finally make his return to the octagon soon? That’s the plan, at least.

After what will be a more than two-year layoff, Cruz is set to fight John Lineker at UFC 233, the promotion announced Wednesday via The Orange County Register.

UFC 233 takes place Jan. 26 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.

Due to various injuries, Cruz hasn’t fought since UFC 207 on Dec. 30, 2016, when he lost the 135-pound title to Cody Garbrandt via unanimous decision. Despite his lengthy absence, Cruz is still ranked No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie bantamweight rankings. Cruz, who’s been an active analyst for FOX Sports during his time off, has been called out by multiple fighters over the past two years. In September, Jimmie Rivera said he was hoping to fight either of the former champs Cruz or Garbrandt.

Instead, it’s Lineker (31-8 MMA, 12-3 UFC) who draws Cruz (22-5 MMA, 5-1 UFC). No. 7 Lineker has won eight of his last nine, including back-to-back wins over Marlon Vera and Brian Kelleher in his previous two fights. His lone defeat during that stretch has been a unanimous decision to current champ T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 207.

The current UFC 233 lineup, which is at 11 bouts, includes:

  • Champ Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw – for flyweight title
  • Ben Askren vs. Robbie Lawler
  • Islam Makhachev vs. Francisco Trinaldo
  • Paul Felder vs. James Vick
  • Yana Kunitskaya vs. Marion Reneau
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski
  • Alexandra Albu vs. Emily Whitmire
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Cortney Casey
  • Alex Caceres vs. Kron Gracie
  • Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
  • Dominick Cruz vs. John Lineker

For more on UFC 233, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.