October 1st will mark the two year anniversary (?) of the last time we saw bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz defend his title in the octagon. Multiple ACL tears and a rejected cadaver ligament transplant have seen the once dominant champion sidelined ever since his 2011 battle with now flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. As such, the bantamweight division has been stuck in a perpetual state of limbo, frustrating fans, fighters and most importantly, Dominick Cruz.
But perhaps the only person more frustrated by Cruz’s arduous road to recovery than the champ himself is interim title holder Renan Barao, who recently became the first fighter in UFC history to defend said title twice (via a second round KO of Eddie Wineland at UFC 165). Actually, Barao is the first fighter in UFC history to ever defend an interim belt. Unfortunately, the Brazilian isn’t seeing many benefits of being the closest thing to a champion his division has seen in a dog’s age.
That’s at least, according to Nova Uniao head trainer Andre Pederneiras, who recently appeared on MMAJunkie radio to discuss Barao’s current predicament:
He’s very frustrated because he needs to make money. So many sponsors here in Brazil are not sponsoring him because he’s not the real champion from the UFC. He’s the interim champion. He’s losing money every day.
The sponsors here want a real champion. A linear champion.
We’ve seen several message boards around the MMA blogosphere making the case that, had Urijah Faber defeated Barao at UFC 149, he would have arguably been promoted to outright champion by now. Why? Because although Barao being champion would clearly be more profitable for Barao, a well known, *American* star like Faber being champion would be far more profitable for the UFC. It would fuel the already heated rivalry between Cruz and Faber, it would give the UFC an opportunity to promote a champion, etc. Cruz would have been able to cash in that lottery ticket he missed out on at UFC 148, so to speak.
Just an observation.
But there is hope, as “The Dominator” is currently eyeing a February 2014 return. It’s a timetable that Pederneiras and company are eager to see come to fruition. Otherwise, well…
I don’t want another opponent. I want to make the fight happen by February, or I need to talk to Dana to take his belt, because more than two-and-a-half years, I don’t understand. But he said he was probably going to be fighting in February.
I’ve been waiting for that and praying every day for it to happen. Renan wants to fight Dominick.