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Report: Dominick Cruz vs. John Lineker in the works for UFC 233

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Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is slated to make his return to the Octagon in early 2019.

MMA: UFC 207-Garbrandt vs Cruz Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been almost two full years since oft-injured former UFC bantamweight king Dominick Cruz competed inside the Octagon, but his return looks to be not too far away.

Combate reported on Wednesday that a matchup between Cruz and heavy-handed slugger John Lineker is targeted for UFC 233 in Anaheim, California. The night’s main card airs live on pay-per-view, with televised prelims expected to be on ESPN.

Cruz (22-2) lost his bantamweight belt by unanimous decision to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 in December 2016. He later revealed that he’d been dealing with plantar fascia tendinitis throughout his training camp. Cruz was slated to face Jimmie Rivera at UFC 219 last December, only to suffer a broken arm. Injuries have severely affected Cruz’s UFC career, hence he’s fought just six times since 2011.

Lineker (31-8) won by third-round KO vs. Brian Kelleher at UFC 224 in May, but rather disappointingly it looks to be his only UFC appearance of the year. He had just one bout in 2017, beating Marlon Vera by unanimous decision, although he was coming off a broken jaw suffered in a loss to T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 207. Since moving back up to bantamweight in 2015, Dillashaw is the only man to defeat him at the weight class.

UFC 233 will occur on January 26th at the Honda Center. No main event has been announced, but a T.J. Dillashaw vs. Henry Cejudo bantamweight title match is linked to the card, as well as Ben Askren’s UFC debut vs. Robbie Lawler.