Dominick Cruz Says He’s Not Thinking About the Belt Anymore
UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, says he is focused on recovery from his second ACL surgery, not on whether the belt will remain in his hands or be relinquished to current interim champion, Renan Barao.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
It has been almost two full years since Dominick Cruz last stepped foot in the Octagon, defending for the second time his UFC bantamweight title against current UFC flyweight champion, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Cruz has been out with a torn ACL, which has required two surgeries. Yet through all of that, Cruz has kept his bantamweight title.
During Cruz’s time off the mat, Brazilian phenom Renan Barao (30-1) burst onto the scene and eventually defeated Urijah Faber to claim the interim bantamweight belt. Barao defended that interim championship earlier this year against Michael McDonald.
For the most part, Barao, UFC president Dana White and Cruz have all talked like Cruz is the rightful champion. The potential of a title-unification bout between Cruz and Barao seemed destined for fruition. Then in December 2012, Cruz needed a second ACL surgery.
Now, amidst the agonizing mental and physical challenges of a second rehabilitation, Dominick Cruz has changed his tone. In a recent appearance on MMA Prime, Cruz opened up about his focus.
“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 [where] 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 a this point other than to take my time and come back strong.”
With Cruz unsure of when he can return, and with Renan Barao set to defend his interim title in September against Eddie Wineland, it may be the UFC’s choice to relinquish Cruz of the belt and bump the Barao-Wineland fight to a regular title fight.
What does Penn Nation think? Does Barao deserve to fight for the legitimate bantamweight belt, or should Cruz hold onto his belt until he is able to defend it?