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Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is willing to step in as a replacement if champion Cody Garbrandt or TJ Dillashaw have to pull out of their UFC 217 title fight.

Cruz (22-2) recaptured the 135-pound title by defeating Dillashaw in January 2016 after having to relinquish the belt because of a series of knee injuries that kept him out of competition. Garbrandt defeated Cruz at UFC 207 in December and will defend his title for the first time against Dillashaw on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden.

“Yeah,” Cruz said when asked if he’d be willing to step in if needed in an interview with UFC Unfiltered.

Dominick Cruz - UFC 199“I’m always training. I’ve been training this whole time. For me, the title shot is important to me. I’ve earned that shot. I held the belt for longer than anybody in this division. I helped build the division,” he said. 

“I gave Cody that shot when I could have just fought TJ again. I’ve been doing this to build the division. I brought another guy up and fought him for the title because I wanted to another guy in the mix because we need it for the division,” added the former champion. 

Carlos Condit Ready to Book His Return Fight to the UFC

If something were to happen to Garbrandt or Dillashaw that would prevent them from fighting, Cruz would like to step in and fight for the title.  But the 32-year-old former champion doesn’t expect either to pull out of their scheduled fight. 

“If either one of these guys gets hurt, I’d like to like to slide in and challenge for the title, 100-percent,” he said.  “I don’t think either one of these guys are going to pull out of that fight card.”

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