"I consider myself the champion. It's me who is training, fighting, defending the belt, not him."
-- Interim Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight titleholder Renan Barao tells Fighters Only that he considers himself to be the true and undisputed 135-pound champion in the UFC and not Dominick Cruz, who has been sidelined for nearly two years due to multiple knee surgeries. In the timeframe "The Dominator" has been out of action, Barao has won inside the Octagon four times including a win over Urijah Faber to become the interim champion and a successful defence of the belt against Michael McDonald. While most fighters would opt to wait for Cruz to recover from injury in order to unify the titles and make the biggest fight possible, the 26-year-old has chosen to stay active, as he will look to defend the interim strap for a second time against Eddie Wineland in the co-main event of UFC 165 on Sept. 21, 2013. There is still no timetable for Cruz's return to active competition and the champion himself has even stated he is not worrying about the belt. As each day passes there is a stronger case to strip Cruz and promote Barao to undisputed champion; however, UFC President Dana White seems keen on letting the situation play out and before making any drastic decisions. Perhaps following UFC 165 more clarity will be shed on this bantamweight championship title mess.
For more news and notes on UFC 165: "Jones vs. Gustafsson," visit our complete event archive here.