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Dominick Cruz Eyes Early 2014 Return, Has No Intention of Vacating Bantamweight Title

(…and until then, we’ll just have to settle for awkward fist-pose photos. / Props: @RenanBaraoUFC)

UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz was a dominant one before he became an absent one. It has been nearly two years since Cruz has fought, thanks to two consecutive ACL tears in his knee, but the injured champ hopes to return early next year.

“I’m looking to be back the beginning of next year is what it’s looking like from what the doctors have told me, so that’s my goal. Unfortunately, the doctor hasn’t even released me, so I couldn’t even make a date if I wanted to,” Cruz recently told MMA Junkie.

“It’s like when you got knocked out and you get put on suspension. It’s the same type of deal with this injury. There’s a set time and stipulation with a knee injury that I’ve gone through, especially doubled. So I’m just listening to the doctor so I stay back and don’t just come back.”

So, the up-side is that Cruz, who probably knows his own body better than anyone, is optimistic at this point. The bad news is that when he returns isn’t completely up to him.

When he does return, however, Cruz says it will be in a title fight. He scoffed at the notion that he’d vacate his title and take a “warm-up” fight first. If someone wants his title, they’ll have to take it from him in the Octagon.

“First of all, it’s silly to think that a champion would ever willingly give away the belt that he’s worked for,” Cruz explained.

“I’ve defended it four times — not once, not twice, not three times. Four times if you count the WEC. Not just that, but boxing is the only sport where you can get an easy fight before you fight for the title. That’s the difference between boxing and mixed martial arts, and that’s why mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world and not boxing.”

Cruz’ champion spirit certainly has not waned at all, it seems. Eddie Wineland will challenge interim champ Renan Barao next at UFC 165. If Cruz can fight in early 2014, chances are he’ll face the winner. Do you think Cruz will be ready to take on the likes of Barao or Wineland in his first fight in over two years, Nation?

- Elias Cepeda

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Jack44- August 14, 2013 at 3:28 am
Amelia. true that Nancy`s rep0rt is unbelievable... last thursday I bought a gorgeous Buick from bringing in $6666 this - five weeks past and more than 10 grand last munth. this is certainly the most comfortable work Ive had. I started this 10-months ago and practically straight away brought home over $74 per/hr. I went to this website, ....
teep- August 12, 2013 at 6:20 pm
I thought no one was supposed to ask him when he was coming back. I thought he said he was tired of that question. He needs to realize that after two years we may just be wondering when he might get around to it. From a medical stand point, if he hasn't been released yet, he may never get released to fight.
Chromium- August 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm
I suggested a month ago that Dominick Cruz should relinquish the title at the earliest appropriate possibility. That is still the post-fight presser at UFC 164. Make Barao Champion and make Barao vs. Wineland for the Undisputed Bantamweight Championship. If Cruz can come back by February or March as he claims, he can have first crack at the winner. If he has to wait longer than that then he really should take a fight first.

Cruz is an incredibly skilled fighter but there's no one in the sport who should be allowed to hold onto the belt through over 2 years of inactivity. Cruz should have been stripped several months ago.
BaghdadBob- August 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm
I haven't missed him.
As Good As Anyone- August 12, 2013 at 11:50 am
I've been a huge fan of Cruz for years and applaud him on his warrior spirit... However, I do firmly believe he should take a tune up fight. Ring rust is a real thing and should be respected. They should re-coin the term "stripping the title" to "deactivating" or something, anything a bit less devastating to injured champions. I'd like to see Cruz face Barao or the next champion at 100% instead of watching him be blasted by a guy he normally would defeat or have a competitive fight with.