According to UFC president Dana White, the interim bantamweight title will never be defended. During Thursday’s UFC 149 pre-fight press conference, White stated the winner of Saturday’s main event between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao will ride the pine to unify the 135-pound crown once champion Dominick Cruz (Pictured) returns from injury.
Cruz repaired the ACL in his right knee last month. He is expected to be sidelined for as long as 6-to-9 months.
After serving as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 15,” Cruz and Faber were slated to complete their trilogy at UFC 148. However, Cruz blew out his knee and was forced to go under the knife. Due to his anticipated extended absence, Octagon brass felt it was best to manufacture an interim title during “The Dominator’s” sabbatical.
Over the past several weeks, Faber has claimed he’d prefer to stay busy and take another fight if Cruz’s surgically-repaired knee doesn’t mend on schedule. Barao, meanwhile, suggested he’d rather wait for the champ to return.
The feud between Cruz and Faber began back in March 2007 when “The California Kid” handed Cruz the first and only blemish on his resume in a WEC featherweight bout. Cruz went on to avenge the loss by posting a highly controversial unanimous decision win over Faber to retain his 135-pound UFC title last July.
Barao and Cruz have never tangoed.
Cruz hasn’t defended his throne since posting a unanimous decision win over Demetrious Johnson in October 2011. The 26-year-old had surgery on his broken left index finger in January and then went straight into his coaching duties on “The Ultimate Fighter: Live.”
UFC 149 takes place Saturday inside Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Canada. The interim bantamweight title tilt headlines the pay-per-view broadcast.