Dominick Cruz Says Early 2014 Return is His Goal, Eager to Prove He’s the Real Bantamweight Champ


UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz

UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is in jeopardy of being stripped of his title if he’s unable to return in early 2014.  Consecutive knee surgeries have sidelined the titleholder since for nearly two years.

While Cruz recovers, the UFC crowned an interim bantamweight champion, Renan Barao, that defended his title for the second time at UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson on Saturday.

A unification bout is expected between Cruz and Barao early next year, but Cruz could have taken an easier route in his return.  He could have opted for a warm-up fight and given up the title.  After all, returning to fighting after more than two years on the shelf is already an uphill battle.

But Cruz has no intentions of giving up his belt and isn’t interested in a warm-up fight.  He questions whether or not there even is one in the stacked 135-pound division.

“Tell me who is a warm-up fight in the 135-pound division?” he asked during the UFC 165 Post Show on Fox Sports 2.

“I’ve always said I wanted to fight the best guy when I come back.  I’m not lying about that.  When I come back I wanted to fight the guy that’s number one, the best in the world in the division,” he added.

Cruz won the title in March 2010 by defeating Brian Bowles.  He’s on a ten-fight winning streak and doesn’t want to have to work his way back up to the top of the division that he’s already conquered.

“There is no warm-up fight.  Everybody in the division is tough.  Everybody in there has a threat,” he said.

“The difference is, I earned the title.  I earned that position in a line of great athletes, and I want that shot to fight the best guy in the world.  I don’t want to come back and go to the back of the line and have to work up,” Cruz explained.  “I want to fight the best to prove that I belong here and why I have the title.  Why I’m the best 135-pounder in the world.”

Sitting in a studio or cage-side watching the division where he holds the title move on without him hasn’t been easy for the 28-year-old athlete.

“There’s nothing I can do right now, and that’s frustrating for me.  It has nothing to do with being mad at anybody.  I’m not mad at Renan.  I’m not mad at anybody.  What I’m mad at is I can’t go in there and do what I want to do now, right now,” said Cruz.

UFC president Dana White recently stated that if Cruz was unable to return to action by the beginning of 2014 that the organization would likely strip him of the title.  Cruz understands why the UFC would take that action, but fully expects to be completely healthy by the early 2014 expiration date.

“The boss has spoken, has he not?  So the bottom line is he says I need to be ready by the first of the year.  That means I better be ready by the first of the year or they take the belt and Barao fights somebody else for the real title, not the interim title.  I get it,” said Cruz. “My thing is, I’m on track to be back by the beginning of the year.  That’s my goal.

“This doctor is going to clear me.  And when this doctor clears me, I’m going to be able to train full-time.  When I train full-time, I’m looking to be back at the beginning of this year.  I’m putting everything in my life on hold to come back and fight the best 135-pound interim champion in the world.”

Be sure to Like MMAWeekly.com on Facebook and Follow @MMAWeeklycom on Twitter.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

  • 5 days ago
  • 0 views

The speculation about UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey’s next opponent began moments after retaining her title for the forth time at UFC 175. read news >>

  • 3 days ago
  • 5 views

UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey still welcomes a superfight with Invicta FC women's featherweight titleholder Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino—she's just waiting for a contract to sign. Spea read news >>

  • 2 days ago
  • 3 views

Although Johny Hendricks is ready to defend his title, the UFC’s end-of-year pay-per-view schedule is pushing back his expected rematch with No. 1 contender Robbie Lawler.Filed under: Featured, MMA R read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 24 views

UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey conducts a fan Q and A in Macau, China, prior to the start of the UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Le (UFC Fight Night 48) weigh-ins. The event kicks off at read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 1 views

Former Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus is slated to return to the cage for the first time since his dramatic title loss to Pat Curran, as he'll face season nine tournament finalist Just read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 13 views

Former longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre says fight fans shouldn't expect him to strap on the gloves again unless the world's premiere mixed martial arts organization institutes in read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 6 views

Patrick Wyman runs down the real winners and losers from yesterday's UFC doubleheader, giving you the most detailed recap and analysis you'll find on the interwebs. Another long day of UFC action is read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 2 views

Another UFC double-header is done, and fans were, ahem, "treated" to 21 fights stretched out over 19 hours. It was a brutal day for the members of the MMA media who had to watch each and every fight, read news >>

  • 26 days ago
  • 23 views

UFC president Dana White and UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey answered questions from fans Friday before UFC Fight Night 48. White discussed Alvarez signing, while Rousey talked about h read news >>