The UFC has constantly stated that they aren’t going to strip Dominick Cruz of his 135 pound title, but after two years and no return date in sight for Cruz, things are starting to feel a bit silly. We’re coming up on Renan Barao’s third interim title defense, which is a lot of fights to be holding a belt and beating the #1 contenders without actually getting any of the perks of being the real champ. Should we get to a fourth fight and it’s not against Dominick Cruz, you better believe the UFC will finally strip him of the belt. And it sounds like Cruz understands this and is mentally prepared for it to happen:
“I can’t worry about the belt. It’s really not my position to decide whether I keep it because I’ve been injured or whether Dana takes it or whether Barao has it. The belt is there. The bottom line is me getting healthy so I can go out there and do what I do best which is prove why I am where I am today. I’m not here by accident. I work hard to be there I’m at and I’m working hard in therapy to make sure I return to form as soon as possible. That’s the goal. It’s been a very tedious, tough process…. Nobody wants to wait including me. I don’t want to have to wait but I don’t really have a choice at this point other than to take my time and come back strong.”
Cruz’s whole gameplan focuses around speed and movement so rushing a knee injury isn’t the best idea in the world – something he already learned when he reinjured the damn thing by starting to train again too soon. At this point having to step back in after two years of inactivity to face the best in a title unification match would almost seem unfair for him. Better to have the UFC take his belt and get a warm up match before stepping back up and challenging Barao (or whoever has it by the time he’s back) for his title. That’s better for him, better for the bantamweight division, and even better for the UFC marketing wise.
(pic by Scott Peterson for MMA Weekly)