There’s an unspoken rule in professional sports that says you don’t lose your spot due to injury. Just don’t tell that to Alex Smith, who watched Colin Kaepernick steal his starting QB job after Smith suffered a concussion.
UFC president Dana White isn’t quite prepared to pull a Kaepernick on injured bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz (pictured), but White does want to have a chat with the man who hasn’t defended his crown in 17 months.
“He’s our champ, he’s our guy and he needs time, but we’re getting to the point now where we really need to make a decision,” White stated following Thursday’s UFC 158 press conference. “This poor kid. I’ve never seen anybody with more bad luck than Cruz, man. And for him, coming back into this division, you know the way this sport is, to been off for two years?
“We’ve seen in the past, you can’t sit around and wait for guys to come back or you will make no money and you’ll be out too long, yourself. Yeah, he’s got to get out there and stay active. Every time this kid fights and wins, it benefits him financially and physically. You have to stay active as a fighter.”
White didn’t say he would strip Cruz of his belt, but he does want to get a better idea of how much longer the 27-year-old intends to be riding the pine.
Cruz hasn’t defended his throne since posting a unanimous decision win over Demetrious Johnson in October 2011. He had his broken left index finger operated on in January 2012 and then went straight into his coaching duties on “The Ultimate Fighter: Live.”
He was slated to complete his trilogy with Urijah Faber at UFC 148 prior to blowing out his knee. Faber, who was coaching opposite Cruz in the reality show, then dropped a lopsided unanimous decision to Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight crown in July.
Barao was hoping his next scrap would be a title unification bout against Cruz, but “The Dominator” and his surgically repaired knee weren’t ready to return. Barao then successfully defended his manufactured belt against Michael McDonald, and will do the same against Eddie Wineland at UFC 161.
Cruz owns a dominant 19-1 professional record. The lone blemish on his résumé came in a submission loss to Faber back in March of 2007. He was expected to miss most of 2013 after undergoing a second knee operation late last year.