So with Dominick Cruz injured and out of his TUF coach fight with Urijah Faber, there’s a few questions everyone is asking: what’ll happen on TUF? What’s going to happen to the bantamweight belt? And who is Urijah Faber going to fight now on July 7th?
Maybe we’ll get a little ratings boost this Friday as people tune in to see everyone react to this nut kick, but after that ratings will limp forward towards the largely pointless finale now. This is the third coach’s fight to fall apart over the past two years. If a fighter had the 2-3 record TUF has sported recently, he’d probably be cut from the UFC.
As for the bantamweight belt, we’ll probably have to wait and see how serious Dominick Cruz’s ACL injury is, but those kinds of things usually start at bad and only go worse. If Cruz is back to training by the end of the year, it’ll be a miracle. The good news here is the UFC has a much more popular fighter sitting in the wings they’ve been jonesing to slap a belt on. Any belt. And with the Dominator out of the picture, Urijah Faber actually has a chance of pulling it off.
The most likely option for Faber is Renan Barao, widely considered to be the #3 guy in the division on account of his somewhat impressive I guess 28-fight win streak. Most recently he went toe to to with Scott Jorgenson at UFC 143 and not only came out on top, but shut Scott out on the scorecards. He’s kinda like Dominick Cruz in that he uses distance to great effect, but doesn’t dance around like a fairy. He’s also already set to fight on July 7th, so it’d be a pretty simple switch to move him up into the co-main event.
Also in the conversation is Michael McDonald, who’s got an 8 fight win streak of his own along with fast finishes in his last two fights. He hasn’t faced the competition that Barao has, but on the plus side he’s more likely to have an entertaining scrap with Faber.
Other than ruining the Ultimate Fighter, Cruz’s injury might actually end up being a good thing. It may be impossible to know what will happen in a fight, but considering we just saw Cruz / Faber II last July, I wasn’t expecting Cruz / Faber III to be significantly different. Now we’ve got a situation where golden boy Faber gets a chance to take an interim belt and carry it for a while. Not only does that mean more money and exposure for everyone, but a bigger fight with Cruz when it finally comes down the pipe. See? Glass half full! Glass half full!!!