Why interim champs should defend their belts occasionally

Renan Barao won the interim UFC bantamweight title back in July, so you’d think he would have defended it by now, or at the very least been scheduled to defend it. But that’s not how things work in the New UFC where fighters apparently get to decide when they’ve done enough for a title shot or whether they have to take on interim challengers. Last week, Dana White finally conceded that Barao may have to fight again before facing Dominick Cruz. Now that is a certainty:

Dominick Cruz underwent another major knee surgery this past week, and it’ll likely further delay his return to the octagon. Trainer Eric Del Fierro today told MMA Junkie that Cruz’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was replaced after his body rejected one from a cadaver. The UFC bantamweight champion is in Los Angeles today to meet with a doctor who will give him a timeline for his return, Del Fierro said, though he estimated it could set the fighter back another six to nine months.

So for the first time in a long time, the UFC has an interim strap floating around that’s actually pretty legit, as opposed to a stopgap prop used maily to fill title slots at the top of increasingly thin PPV cards. It’s too bad the UFC has already wasted 6 months not doing anything with it.

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