Dominick Cruz, Cat Zingano Earn Title Shots with UFC 178 Knockouts

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2014

Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; The referee calls off the fight after Dominick Cruz (red gloves) knocks out Takeya Mizugaki (blue gloves) during the first round of a bantamweight fight in UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

UFC 178 wasn't just a great card tonight. It left us with a lot to look forward to.

Speaking at the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White minced no words in declaring that Dominick Cruz and Cat Zingano are the two top contenders in the men's and women's bantamweight divisions. You can check out the post-fight press conference here.

"He's the guy," said White when asked about Cruz's standing in the bantamweight title picture. When asked if TJ Dillashaw's next opponent would be Cruz, he flatly said "yeah."

It's not surprising. Cruz was a clear-cut top-five pound-for-pound fighter before undergoing numerous procedures to repair a knee injury. That cost him more than two years of his career, and while the UFC stood by him for a long while, they would eventually strip him of his belt after withdrawing from UFC 169, where he was supposed to unify the bantamweight title by facing Renan Barao.

Cruz finally made his return tonight, facing top-10 mainstay Takeya Mizugaki, who was riding a strong five-fight winning streak. Cruz made shockingly quick work of the Japanese striker and demonstrated himself to possibly be an even scarier fighter than he was in 2010.

Zingano, too, made a triumphant return to the Octagon after suffering multiple knee injuries of her own. Zingano was slated to coach The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 opposite Ronda Rousey, which would be followed by a title fight at UFC 168. Unfortunately, she was forced to withdraw from both opportunities, and was replaced by Miesha Tate.

At UFC 178, however, she seems to have earned another opportunity to take the belt.

"This was the 'shut up about Gina Carano fight'," said White. When pressed on whether Zingano was definitively the top contender in the women's 135-pound division, White was comparably succinct, saying "she's it."

Neither Dillashaw vs. Cruz nor Rousey vs. Zingano has an estimated date. Stick with Bleacher Report for more details on both fights as they become available.