Dominick Cruz currently has an injured knee, but if it stays that way into 2014 he may lose his UFC belt.
UFC President Dana White said on a Tuesday conference call that if Cruz isn’t ready to fight by next year, the company will have to make an executive decision with what to do about the champion.
“We’re expecting his return by the beginning of the year,” White said, adding, “and if he can’t return at the beginning of the year then we’re going to have to make a decision.”
White didn’t go into detail about what the options are in terms of what they have in mind for Cruz, but much of the talk from media types lately has been about stripping the fighter of the 135-pound UFC title. In the case that he’s stripped of the title, interim champion Renan Barao, if he beats Eddie Wineland at UFC 165 later this month, would likely be considered champion.
Cruz last competed in October 2011, a fight that saw him earn a decision win over now-flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. With nearly two years since his last fight, many have called in to question the reasoning behind the UFC allowing Cruz to hold the title.
White, however, explained that he sensed confidence from Cruz when the two last conversed about when the fighter would return.
“He came in here a few weeks ago and had lunch with me and Lorenzo [Fertitta], and he was very confident that he’d be ready to go at the beginning of the year.”