The injury to UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz not only knocked him out of his scheduled fight at UFC 148 against Urjiah Faber, but it also brought into question what his role will be for the remaining few weeks of the Ultimate Fighter Live.
Cruz has been coaching his crew of 8 fighters for the last several weeks, alongside his team from the Alliance Training Center, but with his injury happening, will the UFC replace him or bring in a new coach to close out the season?
The last time this situation arose was in season 11 when Tito Ortiz was forced to drop out of his scheduled fight against Chuck Liddell due to surgery, and he was replaced by former middleweight champion Rich Franklin.
While no announcement has been made regarding Cruz’s status on the show, his team is making something very clear – they don’t want a new coach, period.
“They’re going to have 8 guys that are going to be pretty upset if they try to change our coach. It’s already been nine weeks, we’ve kind of made a bond with the coaching staff, we’re like family,” said Cruz’s top pick Justin Lawrence on Tuesday.
Lawrence, James Vick and Vinc Pichel are the remaining three fighters still competing on the Ultimate Fighter Live in quarterfinal positions. Both Vick and Lawrence fight this Friday, and they only want one coach in their corner and his name is Dominick Cruz.
“There’s no way we want anybody but him. He’s been here 10 weeks now and he’s a great coach, a great coaching staff, and we’re getting very close to him, like family almost, and there’s no way I’d want anybody else but him to coach us,” said Vick.
Cruz blew out his ACL while in training for his fight against top contender Urijah Faber at UFC 148, and will be headed into surgery soon that will likely keep him sidelined for the next 9 to 12 months.
With Cruz out of action, Faber now sits without an opponent, but he may have that remedied in the coming days.
Names like Renan Barao, Michael McDonald and Ivan Menjivar have been tossed around as possible replacements for Cruz, with the potential of the fight being an interim title bout.
Nothing has been decided yet however, but as far as the fighters on the show go, for the next few weeks until the finale happens, they only want Dominick Cruz to lead their team.
“Alliance has enough guys they can bring in from Dom’s camp, we want Dom and we want the people we’ve been working with,” Vick stated. “He has more than enough coaching staff to take care of us for the next few weeks. We’re very happy with what we’ve got.”