Opinion: Dominick Cruz Needs To Prove His Worth
By Michael Hatamoto
UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz expects to be ready sometime in early 2014, and a unification fight with interim champion Renan Barao is possible.
Cruz hasn’t fought inside the cage since a unanimous decision win against Demetrious Johnson at UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson in October 2011. The champion was injured and needed consecutive knee surgeries, which he is still recovering from, and has watched the bantamweight division continue without him.
Meanwhile, Barao captured the interim championship in July 2012, when he beat Urijah Faber by decision. Since then, he’s finished Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland, showing he’s the rightful bantamweight champion – and he deserves a chance to fight Cruz.
If the UFC bantamweight division had a deeper talent pool, it seems unlikely Cruz would have been able to keep the title for so long. I still think the UFC should strip Cruz of the championship, but with Faber and McDonald the only true contenders, Cruz vs. Barao needs to happen anyway.
I think Cruz should fight the winner of Faber vs. McDonald, or make Cruz fight the winner of Raphael Assuncao vs. T.J. Dillashaw – and see if he can earn the right to compete for the title.
It’s a shame the UFC is unable to sign additional bantamweight talent, because the top three (active) fighters in the division are so much better than everyone else. UFC President Dana White has given Cruz plenty of time, but if he can’t fight until 2014, there are a few select options available for UFC executives to consider towards the end of the year.