UFC

Dominick Cruz targets end of 2015, start of 2016 for UFC return

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 27: Dominick Cruz speaks with Joe Rogan after his TKO victory over Takeya Mizugaki in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 178 event inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 27, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 27: Dominick Cruz speaks with Joe Rogan after his TKO victory over Takeya Mizugaki in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 178 event inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 27, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has been cleared to return to training and should be ready to fight by the end of 2015 or the start of 2016.

Cruz last fought against Takeya Mizugaki last year and made quick work of the Japanese veteran before suffering the latest setback. Now Cruz is feeling ready to get back into the gym, and according to a statement he released to UFC Tonight, it puts him right on track to return to the UFC very soon.

"I've been fully cleared to return back to all forms of training," Cruz said. "I just started kicking and taking shots last week and I will start live wrestling soon as well. I no longer have any limitations but I will ease into any live work.

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"I stand by what I've stated before, my goal is to return by the end of this year or at the very beginning of next year."

Cruz's timeline to get back in the Octagon should come as great news to current bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who expects to face him when he's ready to fight again.

Dillashaw just commented recently that he was basically playing the waiting game for Cruz to get ready and this latest statement should get UFC officials closer to naming a date and location for the proposed bantamweight bout.

Cruz has been out of action for over a year already after suffering a torn ACL in his knee that put him into surgery and out of the sport since September 2014.

That injury came after Cruz was already out for over two years dealing with an ACL tear in his other knee that was surgically repaired and then operated on again after the former champion's body rejected the cadaver ligament used in his leg.

Now Cruz is on a mission to get it back and he's one step closer to finally making it happen.