Today, the trainer for UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz toldMMA Junkie that his trainee has recently had to undergo a second surgery on his bum knee, and will now be out an additional 6 to 9 months. When you consider how daunting of a task it is to come back from one ACL tear, it would seem doubly daunting to have to come back from a second. Sucks, too, because Cruz is in the prime of his career and seemed like a good bet to hold his UFC title into the future due to his wrestling ability and the perpetual movement striking game that no one has been able to figure out. Now, the only reason he will hold his title in the near future is because the UFC is unlikely to strip it off of him.
It is extremely hard to picture Cruz not coming back a different fighter, whenever his return to the octagon is. The champ is well known for his springy-ness in his striking, which features a lot of cuts and bouncing that you normally don’t find in the octagon. The way he darts in and out, scoring points but avoiding damage, is more like a fine piece of art than a prize fight. It is so unique (and effective) that, as you can see, I have difficulty coming up with words that do it justice. That being said, Cruz is an absolute workaholic, and I have no doubt that people questioning his ability to come back strong enough will only motivate him further to do so. Assuming, of course, that he reads such questioning in the first place. If he doesn’t, I’m sure he will still have ample motivation.
On the very, very dim bright side, at least the UFC is already positioned with an interim bantamweight champion in the form of Renan Barao, who won the belt when Cruz was unable to compete against Urijah Faber this past summer. It seems impossible to think that the UFC would allow, or that Barao would want to, stay out for as many as nine more months while Cruz recovered. As a result, there is a very good chance that we will be seeing a very exciting fight between Barao and likely next challenger Michael McDonald sooner rather than later.
However, no matter how excited that interim title fight may make me, it still doesn’t brighten my spirits enough to forget that Dominick Cruz will be on the shelf longer than originally anticipated, and perhaps much longer. Much like Cruz himself, I would describe my reaction as “disappointed” and “pissed.” Hopefully the champ is ready on the short end of his assumed timeline, and finds himself ready to go at the end of the summer in a fight against Barao, McDonald, or anyone else, for that matter.