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Overcoming odds and adversity, it’s the underdog way, even the American way. It’s why the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa has endured in various forms for forty years. Remember too Rocky is endearing for his comebacks.

Not that he went away, but LL Cool J might call his renewed fame as a star of NCIS LA a bit of a comeback as far as introducing him to the broader audience a hit network show provides.

The Comeback, one of the favorite things to acknowledge in our society. The mention immediately connotes overcoming something, a bad break, an injury, a mistake, or simply time off.

There are comebacks in politics, Richard Nixon returning after his 1960 loss to John F. Kennedy to win the presidency in 1968 ranks among the top regardless of the well documented ensuing debacle. He was dead in the politico waters prior for almost eight years, but then, yes the comeback.

Actor Mickey Rourke had few notable roles except for Sin City in more than a decade. Then he stormed back on the A-list radar in 2008 with a Gold Globe winning, Oscar nominated lead performance in The Wrestler. Steady work since including the Iron Man and Expendables franchises. Comeback.

But most comebacks are related to athletes, they usually bring a brighter spotlight to their journey.

There are degrees of comeback. Baseball’s all time hits leader Pete Rose had a minor one this week. While still banned from Baseball and almost certain to never be elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, it was announced “Charlie Hustle” will be going into his hometown Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and his number 14 will be retired this June. Not the heroic return but worthy of note for himself and the Reds.

When there is talk about one of the greatest comebacks in athletics history, what happened Sunday night has to be in the conversation. Dominick Cruz didn’t just return, he soared, taking his UFC bantamweight title back over a very worthy champ T.J. Dilashaw. It was only the second fight for Cruz in four years and three plus months. You can’t define a comeback any better.

The inaugural champ of the division in 2010, Cruz had four successful defenses the last being against Demetrious Johnson October 1, 2011.

Then it all fell apart for the once prolific Cruz. A torn ACL, his body rejecting an experimental cadaver ligament resulting in a second surgery. There would be a groin injury, then the other knee suffered an ACL tear. During all this the UFC had no choice but take away his belt. Who knew if Cruz would ever fight again? Certainly the conventional wisdom was the man known for the best footwork in the game would lose a step or two with all the rehabilition.

Yet there he was back in the octagon moving, dodging, and flat out as impressive as ever. Nary a step missed. By the third round of the scheduled five, it was clear Cruz was the quicker fighter and Dillashaw was flustered. In the end a split decision and the belt was back around the waist of Cruz.

It was the classic comeback. By every definition. All the weeks of rehab, the hours of setbacks, perhaps the minutes of self doubt played out in fine form with everything at stake and no guarantee another shot would come along with defeat.

Cruz seized a much anticipated return by the jugular, it was his not to be denied. It was as good as it could ever get.

– Kenny

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Watch Kennyalong with Bas Rutten, LIVE on “Inside MMA” Fridays on AXS TV! Check out Kenny’s book “Not Hit Yet,” an insider look at the MMA world.

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