(“Wheeeeeeee!” / Photo via @TheDomin8r)
UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has had horrible luck over the past two years. He’s torn the ACL in his knee twice, endured multiple surgeries, and has not fought a single time. Yet, he’s remained the official champion of the division while interim titlist Renan Barao has defended his belt twice.
Cruz hopes to be back early in 2014 and head straight into a unification bout against Barao. If he doesn’t, however, he may finally find himself stripped of his title. And according to UFC president Dana White, the organization will now make plans to set a time limit for how long champs can stay champs while sidelined.
“We have thought about it, and we will do it,” White told members of the media Monday. “We’re probably going to do that soon.”
It is about time the UFC did this. We don’t have a negative word to say about Cruz who has earned everything he’s ever gotten and who we feel genuinely bad for given all his bad luck, but it looks plain silly for Barao to be only an interim champion at this point. White seems to agree with those conflicted feelings.
“It’s a combination of me feeling really bad for him, and him being such a good person. … Do I think we let it play out too long? Maybe. But if I look at who the champion is, then I say no. I feel bad for the kid,” White said.
Uncle Dana says that he doesn’t expect for it to come to stripping Cruz of his title since he believes the champ will be ready to fight Barao in early 2014. “He is very confident that he’s going to be back at the beginning of the year,” White said.
“And I think we’ve made it pretty clear what’s going to happen if he’s not.”
The UFC hasn’t made the consequences quite so clear in the past, but it’s encouraging to see that they are beginning to. Well, encouraging to Renan Barao, at least — not so much for Dominick Cruz, whose dusty title belt now has an expiration date.