Dominick Cruz could change his nickname to “The Magician” due to a disappearing act that would have David Blaine asking for tips.

The UFC bantamweight champion hasn’t fought since of October 2011, and it doesn’t seem like Cruz will be back in the Octagon anytime soon. Speaking to MMA Fighting recently, Cruz explained that there was no timetable for his return.

“I’m listening to my doctors,” he wrote via text message, “and I’m not putting extra pressure on myself by giving any timeline because it’s not possible to do so as of now.”

Cruz was initially put out of action due to an ACL tear that forced him from of a scheduled rubber match with rival Urijah Faber. Renan Barao would step in for Cruz and defeat Faber to secure the UFC interim bantamweight title. That was all the way back at UFC 149, and now Barao is scheduled to defend his interim title at UFC 161 this summer. Cruz was expected to be back in the first half of 2013, but is now back to square one after a ligament from a cadaver was rejected by his body.

With Barao maintaining an active schedule and Cruz still sitting on the sidelines, it is time for the UFC to strip Cruz of his title. It will likely be well over two years between fights for Cruz, and that’s only an estimate, as nobody is really sure of when he’ll be back.

One example fans bring up is when Frank Mir was stripped of the heavyweight title following his horrific motorcycle accident. Although there are differences between the two men’s situations, the one constant is that both were on the shelf for quite some time. Cruz has done and said all the right things since the injury, but the fact that he can’t compete means the UFC should take off the interim tag on Barao’s belt.

Besides the fact that Cruz won’t be able to defend his title for an unknown period of time, creating an interim title only adds confusion to the new crop of fans coming in. One of the negatives mentioned in boxing is that there are so many titles that it’s hard for non-hardcore fans to realize which competitor is really the top dog. That’s not the case in MMA, where the guy holding an UFC title is universally recognized as the best of the best in that division.

Giving Barao the interim title was meant as a short-term solution, but it has become obvious that this ACL tear isn’t a short-term injury. Given that we know Cruz won’t be back anytime soon, it’s fair to say the UFC should crown the winner of Barao vs. Eddie Wineland at UFC 161 the official champion and let Cruz fight for the belt upon his return.

After all, just imagine the pay-per-view revenue that could be created by promoting the narrative of Cruz coming back to claim a title he never lost. It makes business sense, as well as being practical, so let’s hope the UFC makes the right call at UFC 161.

Photo: Dominick Cruz (L) delivers a knee against Urijah Faber (Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.