Dominick Cruz comeback nears, but unlikely to return in title match

Dreaming of a comeback.

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For Dominick Cruz, the comeback begins anew. The former UFC bantamweight champion had to stand by idly this weekend as the belt he once owned was contested despite the fact that he never lost it. 

The groin injury that took him out of a February unification match with Renan Barao is on the mend, and his coach Eric del Fierro told UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani that Cruz had his first week of sparring last week. During it, he wrestled, grappled and sparred without incident.

UFC president Dana White recently said that if Cruz wants to return in a title match, he’d grant him that wish. But judging from del Fierro’s words to Helwani, that possibility seems to be an unlikely one.

When Helwani asked him about perhaps fighting No. 6 bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki, del Fierro was interested. But heading right back to fighting to the gold? That one is filled with danger.

"The issue is not the title, it’s training for 5 rounds," del Fierro told Helwani. "I need to keep Dominick limited so his body can handle the workload. Even if a fight is booked three months from now, he trains hard so I have to limit his training."

Cruz, who has not fought since Oct. 1, 2011, is hoping to compete again within the next 2-4 months, del Fierro added.

Despite all the time on the sidelines, he’s still just 28 years old. Prior to his succession of injuries, he’d won 10 straight fights and held the bantamweight belt for 18 months.