Dominick Cruz croppedDominick Cruz may be ready to return to the cage by Aug. 30. (Special to Yahoo Sports)
UFC president Dana White on Monday revealed that UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has suffered a groin injury that would force him out of his return to unify his title with the interim belt of Renan Barão at UFC 169.
With the injury, and having already been sidelined for more than two years, Cruz will vacate the title. Barão immediately becomes the sole UFC bantamweight champion.
“Dominick Cruz, who hasn't fought since October 2011 because of an ACL tear and then he hurt it again. And now he's getting ready for the big fight against interim champion Renan Barão. He got a grade two or three groin tear, so he's out of the fight again,” said White on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Barão, instead of having to unify the belt with Cruz, will now put the title on the line against Urijah Faber at the Feb. 1 event on Super Bowl Weekend.
“What we're going to do, this guy has been out for over two years, so now Renan Barão will become the bantamweight champion and Urijah Faber, one of the biggest stars in the UFC – he fought four times in 2013, four impressive straight wins, on everybody's list this year for Fighter of the Year – he's going to step in on just three weeks notice and take on Renan Barão,” White continued.
“Renan Barão has been tearing through everybody,” said White. “This guy hasn't lost a fight in eight years. Urijah Faber has been on an absolute tear too, four straight wins in 2013 against the absolute best in the world. Not only is he ready for this, the guy is a stud and stepped up and took the fight on three and a half weeks notice.”
Cruz suffered a knee injury while training to defend his belt against Faber following a coaching stint by the two on The Ultimate Fighter in 2012. He had surgery to repair the injury, but it didn’t take, forcing him to basically start over.
The UFC allowed Cruz to hold his belt while trying to come back from the knee injury, but the groin injury follows a stretch where Cruz hasn’t fought since October of 2011.
While Cruz was out, Barão defeated Faber to become the interim UFC bantamweight champion in July of 2012. He then defended the interim strap twice in 2013, against Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland. Barão hasn’t lost a fight since 2005, the first fight of his professional career. His record currently stands at 31-1.
Faber bounced back strong from the loss to Barão, winning four consecutive bouts. Those victories include a decision over Iuri Alcantara, along with submission victories over Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, and Michael McDonald.
Renan Barão vs. Urijah Faber, UFC officials told MMAWeekly.com, will remain as the UFC 169 main event on Feb. 1 at The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
(Jeff Cain contributed to this report.)