Cruz tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last year while training for his UFC 148 title defense against Urijah Faber, and was forced to go under the knife for a second time after his body rejected the original import from a cadaver (shudder).
The projected date for his return is still unknown.
In his absence, Renan Barao stepped in to beat "The California Kid" for the Interim strap, prior to successfully defending it against Michael McDonald at the UFC on FUEL TV 7 event earlier this year in London. The Brazilian will now defend against Eddie Wineland this Saturday night (Sept. 21, 2013) in Toronto.
White told media members at yesterday's UFC 165 media scrum (watch it here) that tomorrow's 135-pound championship fight will be the last for the interim strap, even if it means stripping Cruz of the title.
"It's getting to the point now where it's just like, if he can't fight at the beginning of the year, we've got to pull the trigger. It's been two years. A lot of people think we're crazy for holding up the title this long, but it's a tough thing to do to take a title away from somebody. It's hard to do."
Cruz (19-1) 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.
If "The Dominator" does indeed make it back into the Octagon, he may do it without his 135-pound title.
We shall see.