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Injured champ Dominick Cruz says rival Urijah Faber will only fight for ‘No. 1 contender’s belt’

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Dominick Cruz tore his ACL and will miss UFC 148 (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A downcast Dominick Cruz said Wednesday that he'll be back better than ever from the anterior cruciate ligament tear he suffered last week that forced cancellation of his bantamweight title defense on July 7 against rival Urijah Faber, that was to be the co-main event of UFC 148 in Las Vegas.

Cruz, the UFC bantamweight champion, was sparring when he injured the knee. The ACL tear was diagnosed on Sunday in Las Vegas following an MRI. Cruz said the swelling needs to decrease before he can proceed with the surgery.

"It was a normal day in practice," Cruz told Cagewriter. "I went for a weird trip and it folded my knee. There was a really loud pop and I was kind of in denial the rest of the night. The next day, I went in and got an MRI. I got the results on Sunday and by Monday, the news was out."

On Tuesday on Fuel TV, UFC president Dana White said that Faber would fight an opponent to be named at UFC 148 for the interim belt. Cruz will fight the winner when he's healed. Cruz said recovery time is six to nine months, which will likely mean it will be at least 14 months between fights for him. He last fought in October when he defeated Demetrious Johnson via unanimous decision.

White didn't release names, but Faber did later on the show.

Dominick's been out since his last fight and has had several injuries. I think I'll be fighting Renan Barao, Ivan Menjivar or maybe Michael McDonald.

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Urijah Faber will compete for the interim bantamweight title (AP)

He'll carry a belt around, should he wins, and that will undoubtedly gall Cruz. There is no love lost between the two and they were paired as coaches on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter as a way to take advantage of the heat between them.

If Faber wins at UFC 148, he'll be the interim champion, but Cruz said that won't mean much.

"First of all, it's not like Faber is a lock to beat whoever they put him again," Cruz said. "If he gets it -- and that's a big if -- he won't be carrying around the championship belt. I am the champion and I have the belt. He'll have a No. 1 contender's belt.

"If he has that, big deal. You have to beat the champ to be the champion and he won't have beaten the champion. It's no guarantee he'll win no matter who he fights, but regardless of what happens, I hope he's happy running around with a No. 1 contender's belt, if he gets it."

Cruz said the only time he thinks of the injury is when he does interviews, which forces him to relieve the bad moment. But he said while it will hurt financially, he'll make it OK.

"I live humbly for this reason exactly," Cruz said. "Every fighter lives and dies by his own body. If you're a Trophy Truck driver and the truck breaks down, there is no season. As fighters, our bodies are our Trophy Trucks. This is a minor setback, but I live humbly knowing a situation like this could occur."

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