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Cruz-Barao to headline UFC 169

ESPN staff
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Dominick Cruz has been sidelined by injuries since beating Demetrious Johnson in October 2011 © Getty Images
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UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is scheduled to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC 169 on February 1 in Newark, New Jersey.

A unification bout between Cruz and interim champion Renan Barao will headline the pay-per-view event, which will take place at the Prudential Center.

Additionally, featherweight champion Jose Aldo will seek his sixth UFC title defence against No. 1 contender Ricardo Lamas. UFC officials have confirmed the pair of title fights, following an initial report by Newsday.

Knee injuries have sidelined Cruz (19-1) since he recorded a second title defence over Demetrious Johnson in October 2011. The 28-year-old was scheduled to face Urijah Faber at UFC 148 in July 2012 but withdrew with a torn ACL.

Complications in Cruz's recovery have kept him out of action since. Based out of Southern California, Cruz is on a 10-fight win streak. He won the WEC bantamweight title in March 2010 and defended it twice before merging into the UFC.

Barao (31-1) has taken the UFC's 135-pound division by storm in Cruz's absence. He earned the interim title tag with a unanimous decision over Faber at UFC 149 and has since defended it twice, with wins over Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland.

The Brazilian fighter has not suffered a loss since his professional debut in April 2005.

Aldo (23-1) is coming off a fourth-round TKO victory over Chan-Sung Jung at UFC 163 in August. Aldo is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC, with wins over Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes and Frankie Edgar.

Lamas (13-2) fought only once in 2013, recording a second-round TKO over Erik Koch at a UFC on Fox event in January. He was scheduled to fight at UFC 162 in July but was pulled from the card by the promotion.

He will carry a four-fight win streak into his first UFC title bid, with wins over Koch, Hatsu Hioki, Cub Swanson and Matt Grice.

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com
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