There is no way. There is, positively, absolutely, no way that Dominick Cruz will come back at 100 percent. Let me break this down as to why. First of all, there’s ring rust. I know that some fans call this a myth, but there are too many examples of this happening. Every fighter that gets into a long lay-off because of an injury forgets how the Octagon feels; they might even forget what fighting feels like. It is not just getting in there and implementing your will, it is the noise of the crowd, the bright lights, trying to find your coaches voice in the chaos, and then worrying about the fight. There is a rhythm to it and it has been proven hard to get back into it.
Secondly, it was a knee injury. Anyone that has seen Cruz fight before knows that movement and footwork are one of his greatest weapons in the Octagon. A knee injury will definitely but a damper on those things. No matter how much rehab you do, or how much knee strengthening you put your body through, it is not as strong as it once was. Even if, by some miracle, it is just as strong, it takes a mental toll on a fighter. They no longer have the absolute faith that they used to have in their body. The fighter doesn’t realize that not only can it be hurt but it can be broken, and the consequences are dire.
It was no secret that Cruz was coming back to fight Renan Barao, but I cannot help but feel sorry for him. Cruz is going up against an amazing fighter on an incredible win streak. Barao has the momentum, the experience and the belief in himself. In my opinion, Cruz is coming in with ring-rust, a weak knee, and worry on his mind.