Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera, Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza Set for UFC 219

A pair of former UFC champions get back in action on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas

A pair of former UFC champions are set to return at the year end card on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.

Former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will get back into the Octagon to face surging contender Jimmie Rivera while former strawweight queen Carla Esparza meets Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 219.

Both fights were announced by UFC officials on Wednesday.

Cruz makes his first appearance since losing the bantamweight title to Cody Garbrandt in Dec. 2016. While he was holding out hope for an immediate rematch, Garbrandt suffered an injury that delayed his title defense against T.J. Dillashaw, which meant Cruz would have to get booked against a different opponent or risk sitting out for more than a year.

Welcoming Cruz back will be Jimmie Rivera, who has gone undefeated since joining the UFC roster while picking up impressive wins over Thomas Almeida as well as recent UFC Hall of Fame inductee Urijah Faber.

As for the women’s strawweight match, Calvillo will look to keep her undefeated run in tact when she faces former champion Carla Esparza.

Calvillo has already gone 3-0 in 2017 and she’ll look to add one more win to her resume before the end of the year. This will definitely be her toughest test as Esparza has been ranked as one of the best 115-pound women’s fighters in the world for several years while also becoming the first ever UFC women’s strawweight champion.

UFC 219 takes place on Dec. 30 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.