Injured Dominick Cruz Vacates UFC Bantamweight Title; Urijah Faber Now Faces Renan Barao At UFC 169

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Embattled UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz was set to fight his first UFC bout in over two years against surging interim champion Renan Barao in the main event of UFC 169. The title unification bout would have finally determined the rightful owner of the UFC bantamweight crown.

It was a bout a long time in the making, but unfortunately, it’s one that’s never going to come to fruition.

Cruz has been injured once again according to UFC president Dana White, who appeared on ESPN’s flagship show “Sportscenter” this afternoon to unveil the unfortunate news.

A ‘grade 2 or 3’ groin tear has forced Cruz to vacate the bantamweight title, an ultimatum that he had been given after not fighting since he defeated current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson via decision in October 2011. Cruz then tore his ACL preparing to face archrival Urijah Faber in the culmination of their stint as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: Live in July 2012.

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Faber will now replace Cruz and square off with Barao at UFC 169. Last seen destroying rising prospect Michael McDonald at UFC on Fox 9 on December 14, 2013, “The California Kid” will make an incredibly fast turnaround. Faber lost a decision to Barao for the interim belt in the main event of UFC 149 after Cruz was injured.

There’s not much doubt that Faber has earned his next title shot with the body of work he’s put together since that fight, going an undefeated 4-0 with three finishes. However, there’s not a fighter with more momentum than Barao. The Nova Uniao product has gone unbeaten in his last 32 fights, finishing both McDonald and Eddie Wineland in spectacular fashion since obtaining the belt.

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Faber will have his hands full with Barao. He’s going to have to bring something new to the cage if he wants to avoid going an embarrassing 0-6 in his last six title bouts.

For Cruz, the setback is obviously devastating. “The Dominator” was finally ready to get back into the cage in an attempt to silence all the critics that believed he should have been stripped of the belt long ago. Instead he’ll face another lengthy recovery period with his future up in the air.

Love him or hate him, you have to feel for Cruz. He endured the setback of having a cadaver’s ACL not take in his leg and kept fighting to get back in the Octagon. He deserved his day against Barao; it’s unclear now if he’ll ever get it. We here at LowKick wish Cruz a quick and effective recovery.

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As far as UFC 169 is concerned, the promotion has not clarified whether or not Barao vs. Faber II will be the main event. The card, which airs live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on February 1, also features a featherweight title scrap between champion Jose Aldo and challenger Ricardo Lamas.

Which one deserves the top billing in your eyes?