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.”