Dominick Cruz’s UFC Title Could be in Jeopardy if He Cannot Return by Early 2014

September 10, 2013
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UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz

On Sept. 21, UFC bantamweight interim champion Renan Barao will fight Eddie Wineland in the UFC 165 co-main event. It will be Barao’s second title defense, while bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz continues to recover from knee surgery.

Cruz (19-1) hasn’t fought since Oct. 1, 2011.  While preparing to face Urijah Faber for the third time in May of 2012, after coaching The Ultimate Fighter: Live, Cruz suffered a torn ACL.  He underwent unsuccessful corrective surgery and was required to go under the knife a second time.

UFC president Dana White said during a media conference call on Tuesday that he hopes UFC 165 will be the last bantamweight interim title fight.  He also indicated that if Cruz is unable to return by the beginning of 2014 that the organization will have to make a decision about possibly stripping Cruz of his belt.

“I hope this is the last time that it will be the interim title fight,” said White.  “We’re expecting his return by the beginning of the year, and if he can’t return at the beginning of the year then we’re going to have to make a decision.”

White recently met with the sidelined titleholder and Cruz indicated that he’ll be ready to return in early 2014.

“He came in here a few weeks ago and had lunch with me and Lorenzo (Fertitta),” said White. “And he was very confident that he’d be ready to go at the beginning of the year.”

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  • bajafox

    One month and one day from today, it will be 2 years since he last fought. This should have happened a year ago, I don’t think he even qualifies to be in the rankings?

    • No, he doesn’t qualify to be in the MMAWeekly World MMA Rankings.

      • Collideoverme

        He should have been stripped of the title about a year ago. Dana has let this go on for too long.

        • Scotty_O

          In all reality, what does it really matter? The division is continuing as per usual. The dude earned a belt, last case scenario should be stripping any ones belt unnecessarily.

          • bajafox

            You have to defend the belt to be the champ. He hasn’t defended it in nearly 2 years. It matters when there are other fighters waiting to get their shot, he’s holding up the division

          • Scotty_O

            He’s not holding up the division though. Bantam weights are still fighting for top contendership, then when if they get there, there’s a belt to fight for.

          • Marcus Miles

            Its not the same. You are fighting for a belt that reps second best. As long as Cruz is out, anyone who has the interim belt is #2. Its not about having a “BELT”, its about having “THE BELT” by taking it from the champ….”CHAMP.”

          • Scotty_O

            I get that, and in a perfect world injuries would never happen, but unfortunately they do. So this whole Interim Champ thing is to prevent the division from being held up. It’s the most efficient way to handle it according to the UFC.
            So now, Bantam Weights get paid, we see great fights, and Dominic Cruz who earned his belt gets shown a little respect. Barora will always be second best until we watch him beat Cruz, whether there’s an Interim in front of his belt or not.

            No what I mean?

          • bajafox

            That’s a good point

          • Dragon Kid

            Frank Mir got stripped of his belt when the HW division was thin as.

          • Collideoverme

            I agree to a point. But at what point do they say enough is enough? It’s been two years. Going to be 2 1/2 before he fights. It was long enough that they created then interim title, and that’s been defended several times. Barao should officially have become the champ after defending for the third time. He’s defended it, what, four times now?

    • bajafox

      Looks like some Dominic penis lickers are in here thumbing down all the negative Dominic comments, lol

      Timothy Malone and Fidel Mora, trolls, lol

      • shakejunt

        nobody here likes you

        • bajafox

          All the more reason to stick around. Was gonna quit coming here since all the same content is on Yahoo MMA and Damon doesn’t seem to write for this site anymore. But since you love me so much I’ll post my heart out for your reading pleasure. You’re welcome

          • shakejunt


  • Giovanni

    I hope he doesn’t force himself to this training just to get back and not lose his title or else he might run the risk of ruining his knee and have no other option but to retire from the sport. I like him, but then again, I would have to agree that if a champion is sidelined for a year then he should be stripped of the belt if not sooner. Props to Barao for an excellent interim run. By the way, will the UFC make Barao an official champ or will there be an official title fight for the “vacant” batam weight belt?

    • Matte

      They will give Barao the title in that case, he is the interim champion. (Or at least give the reignimg champ the title should Barao lose.)

      I see this as a non issue. Regardless Cruz will be pretty much back in title contagion when he returns.

      I also agree that the title should have Bern stripped long ago. And it DOES make a difference, especially in a division the UFC are trying to push.

    • Seth

      Yes, Barao would be Undisputed champ. Same as when they stripped Mir and Arlovski became champ. Yes, I do hope he force himself to much as kid always does. Yes, I hope they strip him. Yes, I hope he will retire. And yes, I hope he will be gone from MMA. Yes, I’m Cruz’s hater, feel free to hate me now.

  • diazfan209

    I’d be surprised if Cruz retains his title even if he is able to fight in time. 2 years without a fight, coming off injury, & facing the #1 contender…… It would be very impressive though.

    • MMA FAN

      GSP baby!! Come on haters, lets here it.

      • Advance*

        GSP wasn’t out as long and Cruz can’t just hold his opponent down the entire 25 mins if he has to.

      • George Sperry

        What’s “here it?”

        • MMA FAN

          It’s a very obvious typo George Sperry, but I believe you knew that.

          And over half of the Condit fight stand up, so try again bud.

          • George Sperry

            I still have no idea what you are talking about.
            This thread is about Cruz and you brought up GSP and now Condit.
            Take a deep breath and try to explain what you mean using English and complete sentences.

          • Scotty_O

            Alright, I’ll try and explain this as simple as possible since you can’t seem to keep track of what’s going on.

            -Diazfan209- commented that “if and when” Cruz comes back from his injury, the likelihood of him retaining his title is slim, due to the severity of his injury and his time spent away from the octagon. It would be difficult for him to come back and defeat the #1 contender in Barao under those conditions.

            Following me still?

            I’ll take another deep breath and continue.. (you condescending sac of $hit)

            My comment:

            “GSP baby!! Come on haters, lets here it.”

            This was said to shed light on the fact that GSP did that exact task when he defeated Carlos Condit last year in his return fight. I really didn’t think it was that hard to understand with the exception of my minor spelling error. But then again, that’s my fault, because I should never underestimate how stupid and annoying the general public can be (referencing you) in case that went over your head as well.

            We clear yet, or are you going to come back at me with something mean, angry and unnecessary?

          • George Sperry

            “And over half of the Condit fight stand up, so try again bud.”

            If you don’t want it personal, don’t MAKE it personal…… Bud.

          • Scotty_O

            “And over half of the Condit fight was stand up, so try again bud.”

            That’s what I meant to type. It was in response to Advance*’s comment saying that GSP just laid on him. The missing word made it hard to get, I get that. A couple spelling mistakes doesn’t give you the right to be such a douche though. Are you like that in real life or do just just act like a douche in chat forums ?

  • drkdisciple

    about time!

  • shakejunt

    hard for me to support stripping the consensus best bw ever, but it is about that time to make the decision.

    that said, nobody will consider barao the “real” champion.

    • Best bantamweight ever? To be that you have to actually fight. Barao is more the real champion than Cruz is.

      • shakejunt

        no i’m pretty sure 4 title defenses means he’s the best ever at this point, not saying that can’t/won’t change.

        sylvia are arlovski were hardly true champions after mir’s injury. barao won’t be until cruz returns and loses or retires.

  • Jay Magallon

    It is absolutely ridiculous that its been almost 2 years, going on 2 years and four months at least when he finally does fight, and he is still referred to as the bantamweight champ. I’m all for giving a guy a chance but with all the guys giving so much of themselves to this sport, just to earn a living for themselves and their families, it seems pretty unfair that he’s got an immediate title shot to come back to. You have all these fighters putting their blood, sweat, and tears fully into just getting a chance to be in contention, and then you got Cruz getting paid well to sit in a nice comfortable booth, talk about fights, and enjoy the media exposure for not doing anything in the cage for nearly the past 2 years. I like Dominic Cruz, but in this age of mma and especially considering the state of the UFC and various observations on its weight classes, theres no room to keep that belt on ice(kinda) for the past 2 years.

    • Advance*

      I agreed with you until you started acting like this guy isn’t trying to work his way back from miserable injuries. I’m sure he’s working just as hard to get back to 100% as the fighters who are training to compete. He’s a fighter and competitor and you’re crazy if you think he wouldn’t trade the last two years of “sitting in a nice comfortable booth” for a few grueling fights. He should be stripped because it’s been so long, but only because no fighter is bigger than the division, not for any fault of his own.

      • Jay Magallon

        I realize he’s trying to come back from injuries. I’m certain he would rather be fighting than be on the sidelines. With very limited amount of weight classes, and so many great fighters out there I personally just want to see the belt defended. But I completely understand where you’re coming from in your response.

  • james j

    I think Cruz is the best pound for pound fighter in MMA.

  • uncle

    Renan Barao is more active then Cruz, So they should
    give Barao the title and when Cruz recovers,he would
    get the next shot for the title.

  • Kris-tyahn

    Someone please Explain to me how the wording “interim champ” and champ affects the division?! Barao defended the interim title and the fighters in the Bantam weight division have been training and fighting to get a crack at Barao, so how does this in anyway hold the division?! If the UFC strips the title from Cruz, how does that change anything, except for Barao’s title name?!

    So the UFC strips Cruz’s title, and Barao defends the “title” again, how’s that different than hat he’s doing now?! NOONE not one single Bantamweight fighter will think Barao is the “TRUE” champ, unless he beats Cruz or if Cruz retires. Fighters have already said that, about any champ, even Faber who dislikes Cruz more than anyone stayed that Cruz should keep the belt. Injuries happen, yes 2 years is a long, long time, but it’s no fault of his own. It would be different if he reinjured his knee doing some extreme sport or something he shouldn’t have been doing. This guy had the WORST luck EVER, bc of “nature”/science or whatever, so he should lose his title without losing a fight?! No, I agree with Faber. It would be completely different if there was no interim champ, but there is, how changing his title makes a difference, I don’t see it!

    • Advance*

      Because it’s not fair to allow a fighter to be the champion for 2+ years without defending the belt. Yes he’s still technically the champ, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have lost the belt already if he was fighting 2-3 times a year. By early next year, if Barao beats Wineland he will have defended his interim belt twice. The same amount of times as Cruz. He’s the one going out there and beating the top contenders and he’s earned the right to be called the champion if Cruz can’t get in the cage. It’s ridiculous when the interim belt is being defended more than the official one. And just like you’re saying it’s not Cruz’s fault that he keeps getting injured, it’s not Barao’s fault that he hasn’t had a chance to fight Cruz.

  • Kris-tyahn

    FYI: I’m not a Cruz fan, I don’t like or dislike him.

  • Mark McDowall

    Cruz should have been stripped of the belt a LONG time ago. 2 years without defending your title is ridiculous.

    This just shows how much the UFC really doesn’t care about the lighter divisions.

    • Guest

      Cruz should have been stripped of the belt a LONG time ago. 2 years without defending your title is ridiculous.

      This just shows how much the UFC really doesn’t care about the lighter divisions.

  • mike

    A time limit should be put in place. If you’re out for 18 months or more, the title should be taken from you.


    This’d be better for Cruz, once he is stripped he can fully recover and fight 1-2 fights and then fight Barao for the championship,,, rather coming 2.5 yrs off and losing and making excuses about “ring rust”