After torn ACL’s in both knees and a groin injury, Dominick Cruz is set to fight for only the second time in nearly four years this coming January 17, 2016. He’ll face the current bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who won the belt from Renan Barao after the Brazilian beat Urijah Faber for ‘The Dominator’s’ vacated strap. A brief comeback at UFC 178 showed the brilliance of Cruz, and now he’s once again on the warpath, with ‘The Viper’ in his sights.

It’s all about taking his time and not going crazy, as Cruz tells during a recent interview:

“It’s all about taking my time,” he said. “I’ve got four months to prepare for this fight, so the key is, don’t rush it. I don’t need to be doing a crazy amount of (sparring) rounds until I get closer to the fight. It’s about training smart and still training hard.”

Dillashaw will certainly have a big challenge if Cruz shows up in prime form, as we saw against Takeya Mizugaki, and on the subject on ‘Killashaw’:

“I was at the pinnacle of my career,” Cruz said. “I was doing better than what TJ Dillashaw has even shown. I cleaned out the division, and he’s been walking around pretending he’s champion.

“The competition I faced was top notch, the best in the world. Then once I cleaned out the division, TJ came up. It’s just a little different for him than it is for me. I got to earn that position, then I had to hand it over because of injury.”

Dillashaw’s level of competition indeed pales in comparison to ‘The Dominator’, but it’s not about that now. Sure, Cruz has undoubtedly learned invaluable lessons in beating some of the best fighters on the planet, but it all comes down to that five round fight in January. The former bantamweight boss says that the injury woes he suffered have also helped him better his game:

“Going through all that, having everything and then having it taken away, you realize that it’s a privilege being at the top,” he said. “That’s something TJ and no other champion understands because they haven’t been through what I have.”

We’ll have to wait until UFC Fight Night 81 to see if Dominick Cruz can claw his way back to the pinnacle of the sport, or if TJ Dillashaw is truly the next generation of elite champion.

In the meantime, click over to the next page to watch some of the greatest head movement and footwork in MMA history!

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Dillashaw/Cruz Highlights