Even Dillashaw recognizes the magnitude of such a fight. After defeating Renan Barao for a second time, he confirmed at the UFC on FOX 16 post-fight press conference that in order to take his star to new heights, Dillashaw has to stand across the Octagon from the man who once held the same gold belt around his waist. The moment Cruz is ready to go, Dillashaw is game.
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“That’s the biggest fight,” Dillashaw said. “That’s what’s going to make my name the biggest is fighting Cruz … as soon as he’s able to come back.”
The only problem facing a potential showdown with Cruz is the former champion has spent more time on the injured list than he has in the gym. Knee injuries have crippled Cruz’s last four years, allowing him to fight only once since October of 2011.
In his return fight in 2014, Cruz made easy work of Tekaya Mizugaki at UFC 178. The win reestablished him as a legitimate contender in the weight class, but the hype died down soon after when he went he had to step away again due to an ACL injury, his third since 2011.
But when he’s back, Cruz is the fight that’s going to make Dillashaw’s name shine brighter than anything. Not only is it the biggest fight he can take, but it’s also one he sees himself winning.
“He’s a very elusive, high-paced fighter as well,” he said of Cruz. “I just don’t think he has the power behind his punches. I don’t think he has a devastating threat that you can impose on someone. I see myself definitely winning that fight.”
Follow Erik Fontanez on Twitter: @Nahmles