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Now that Dominick Cruz is officially out of UFC 148 after blowing out his knee in training, the search is on for a new opponent for Urijah Faber.
UFC president Dana White confirmed on Tuesday night's edition of UFC Tonight that Faber will remain on the July 7 card against an opponent yet to be named.
“So what's going to happen is Urijah Faber will, he's going to fight still. He's going to fight on the same card. Now, I'm looking for the right opponent. The guy who deserves this shot at Urijah Faber,” said White.
The biggest news that came out of the interview however is the confirmation that Faber will still be battle for a title on that card. With Cruz sidelined most likely for the next nine to 12 months dealing with the knee injury and upcoming surgery, the UFC will introduce an interim bantamweight title at UFC 148.
“The answer is yes,” White confirmed when asked about an interim title.
Faber heard about the news while also being interviewed on the show, and he mentioned a few possible opponents, although nothing has been decided.
“That's the first I've heard of that. I think that's the best idea,” Faber said about the title shot coming at UFC 148. “Dominick's been out since his last fight. He had his hand surgery. Now he's out with another surgery, so a year and a half, and I think Renan Barao or Ivan Menjivar or maybe Michael McDonald, but I'm not sure.”
Renan Barao has been a popular name in many circles because not only is he already a Top 10 bantamweight, but he's also fighting on the same July 7 card that Faber was already scheduled on. Currently, Barao is set to face Ivan Menjivar on the UFC 148 card, but he could easily be switched to face Faber with the interim title on the line.
In Faber's head, Barao might actually be a tougher opponent that Cruz would have been.
“He's as tough an opponent as Dominick, but a little more dangerous. A little bit slower on his feet, but has a lot of ways to win,” said Faber about Barao.
The decision on who will face Faber will come down the pike in the next few days, and then on July 7 a new UFC interim bantamweight champion will be crowned.
With that decsion settled, the other piece of news that was confirmed during White's interview on Fuel TV was Cruz's role for the last few weeks on The Ultimate Fighter Live.
Despite his injury and subsequent replacement on the UFC 148 card against Faber, Cruz will remain on the reality show and coach his team of fighters as they look to advance to the June 1 Ultimate Fighter Live finale.
“Cruz will stay on. Cruz has done a phenomenal job coaching his team,” said White. “The thing had a chance to become, even the other night if (Mike) Rio would have won, but (Andy) Ogle beat him, but it's still neck and neck. Yes, he will stay a coach.”
Now it just comes down to who will get the call to face Faber at UFC 148? Will it be Renan Barao? Or could Michael McDonald slip into the spot coming off a huge knockout win over Miguel Torres?
Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com for the details as they become available.