The only way the winner of Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald becomes UFC bantamweight champion is if Dominick Cruz retires, which may be Dana White's suggestion if "The Dominator" hurts himself again and needs another year on the shelf.
Whatever Dominick Cruz is doing on his road to recovery, I hope he's doing it carefully.
The reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight Champion, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last year while training for his UFC 148 title defense against Urijah Faber, was forced to go under the knife yet again after his body rejected the original import from a cadaver.
Interim titleholder Renan Barao, who stepped in for "The Dominator" to quell the uprising of "The California Kid" last July, will put his substitute strap on the line against Michael McDonald this Saturday (Feb. 16, 2013) in the UFC on FUEL TV 7 main event in London.
The winner is widely-expected to try to unify the titles against Cruz when he returns.
But if another injury should rear its ugly head and put the 27-year-old on the shelf once again? Then UFC President Dana White, speaking at today's "Barao vs. McDonald" pre-fight press conference, would urge him to retire.
"Yes, we expect him to come back. Everything is going as well as can be expected, and hopefully he comes back soon. I mean, if he starts training again and gets another injury that's going to take him out for a year, and I hate to even say this about the kid since he's a really good kid, but he should seriously probably look at retiring. But I'm not taking something like that from somebody. The way that it works in the fight business is you beat the man who beat the man. Obviously, though, if he had to retire, then [the interim champion] would automatically become the champion."
Cruz (19-1), who flat-out guaranteed his return, has not competed since a unanimous decision victory over Demetrious Johnson back in Oct. 2011. His only professional loss came by way of submission to Faber back in the old days of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), one he eventually avenged at UFC 132.
There you have it.
Not only does Cruz have to come back after an extended period away from the fight game, he must also do it against one of two very dangerous -- and active -- Interim champions. What do you rate his chance of success if and when he finds his way back inside the Octagon?