The question as to when former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz makes his way back to the Octagon is still very much up in the air.
The injury-riddled fighter hasn't stepped foot inside a mixed martial arts (MMA) cage since October of 2011, when he defeated Demetrious Johnson to secure his fourth consecutive 135-pound title defense. Seven months later, "The Dominator" tore his ACL, an injury that began a string of unfortunate setbacks that have kept the former champion sitting on the sidelines.
Cruz was all set to make his much-anticipated return to the Octagon at UFC 169 this past February against then interim-division champion, Renan Barao. Then, disaster struck once again as Cruz suffered a torn groin a few weeks before the title unification bout.
That forced UFC President Dana White to strip Cruz of his title and brand Barao the official champion.
But speaking during a recent UFC on FOX 11 media scrum (video), White revealed that once Dominick is ready to return, he would be granted an immediate title shot.
But, challenging a "nasty" fighter like Barao in your first fight back after a three-year layoff is something White says Cruz should think twice about.
His words (via Bloody Elbow):
"I literally have heard nothing from Dominick Cruz. I don't know what's going on with him. And I don't think after this much of a layoff it would be right to throw him in there for [a title shot], unless he wants it. He was the champ before all this stuff happened to him, and if he wanted to come right back and fight (Barao), then yeah, I'd do it. But Barao is one of those guys -- man, I just think Barao is so nasty. I'd fight somebody else. If it was me, personally."
Indeed, Barao has proven to be a legit champion, defending his title four consecutive times in Cruz's absence. The scrappy Brazilian will go for five in a row when he faces T.J. Dillishaw in the main event at UFC 173 on May 24, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Should he prove victorious, then title defense number six could come against Cruz later this year.
That is, of course, if "The Dominator" doesn't heed the advice of his boss and take a warm-up fight before trying to reclaim his strap.