It’s been almost two full years since UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz set foot in the octagon. Originally scheduled to face off in a rubber match against his rival, Urijah Faber, Cruz was forced to pull out of the fight due to a torn ACL. A full replacement was performed, but in December of 2012 it was revealed that his body had rejected the cadaver ligament. He has worked diligently following his second surgery, but it’s been a long, frustrating road back to health for the champion. Many have questioned whether such a long layoff should see him stripped of his title, but the UFC has thus far been patient with his progress. A new report out of Brazil indicates that his return may be imminent.
As first reported by mmafighting.com, Cruz was in attendance at last weekend’s event in Brazil. During his stay he met with the Interim Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao, and notified him of his return to planned return to action in February of 2014.
Barao had this to say about the interaction:
“We only exchanged a few words because my English isn’t that good,” Renan told MMAFighting.com about the meeting with Cruz in Brazil. “He told me he’s returning (to fighting) on February. I was really happy to hear that. I hope he can return so we can finally fight.”
Barao first received his interim moniker during a fight against Urijah Faber in July of last year, replacing the injured Cruz. Things move quickly in the UFC, and Barao is set to make his second title defense against Eddie Wineland at next month’s UFC 165, having already defeated contender Michael McDonald earlier this year. If Cruz is able to return in February as planned, he will have spent 29 months on the shelf. Barao has likely experienced frustration of his own, as he continues to defeat top contenders without being able to drop the “interim” from his name. If he is successful in September, a unifying match up between he and Cruz will finally set the division back in motion.