The man he defended the belt against at UFC on Versus 6 in Oct. 2011, Demetrious Johnson, has since gone on to compete five times in the Octagon, winning the inaugural Flyweight championship and notching two defenses of his own. And "Mighty Mouse" will look to make it three straight when he rematches Joseph Benavidez in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 Finale on Nov. 30, 2013.
In short, it's seemingly been a mixed martial arts (MMA) lifetime since Cruz sniffed the eight-walled cage.
Meantime, Renan Barao has carried the interim division torch, emerging as the heir apparent with watered-down championship victories over Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland, while Cruz attempts to recover from multiple knee injuries (and surgeries).
UFC and its president, Dana White, have been more than patient with "Dominator" and his recovery, perhaps even letting the situation endure too long.
"This is one of those situations where, Dominick Cruz is a good kid," White explained to MMAFighting.com. "He's a great champion .... 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 recently drew a line in the sand, declaring that Barao's recent winning performance over the aforementioned Wineland at UFC 165 last month would likely be the last with an interim title tag. He poured added more fuel to the fire when he announced that Cruz would be stripped of his belt once and for all if he is unable to return to action as expected in early 2014.
And today, White revealed that discussions are underway to set a rigid time limit on champion inactivity, a clear attempt to remove the personal feelings that can -- and clearly do -- get in the way of practical business decisions.
"We have thought about it, and we will do it," White remarked when asked how long a champion can be sidelined before stripping him or her of the belt. "We're probably going to do that soon."
Better late than never.