After Dominick Cruz was forced out of his bantamweight title unification fight against interim champion Renan Barao due to a torn groin, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White had no choice but to strip "The Dominator" of the title (video here).
After all, it's been over two long years since Cruz has defended his strap inside the Octagon. Through no fault of his own, of course.
Nevertheless, Barao will now be given full ownership of the UFC's 135-pound title and though he is sad to see Cruz down and out of their UFC 169 bout -- which was set to go down on Feb. 1, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey -- the scrappy Brazilian didn't feel he had to fight and defeat Cruz to prove he was the real division champ.
His words to MMA Fighting:
"I was surprised with the news that Dominick Cruz got hurt again, but I always felt I was the undisputed bantamweight champion. He hasn't fought for a long time and I have defended my belt. I'm sad that he's injured, I was training and hoping for this battle since WEC. I hope that he recovers soon, but I don't feel the need to fight him to prove I'm the (real) champion."
Taking the place of Cruz in the upcoming title fight is Urijah Faber, winner of four straight. Wins that came after "The California Kid" dropped a unanimous decision to the aforementioned Barao at UFC 149 for the interim strap. While Renan admits Faber has improved since their last meeting, he's more than prepared to get the victory, yet again.
"I have to set a new strategy with my coaches because Faber's style is different (from Cruz's). He's slower, but he's really tough and handles too much punishment standing. He has evolved a lot in this aspect since our last fight, but I'm prepared for anything. The most important thing is to go there and do a good show for the fans."
Four consecutive stoppage victories are evident of Urijah's improvement.
What say you Maniacs, do you see Barao as the true 135-pound champion despite the fact that he never fought and defeated Cruz ... or does doubt still linger?