Dominick Cruz is the perfect example of how not to handle an injured champion in the UFC. Cruz has been sidelined for two years due to injury, and still remains the UFC bantamweight champion. While he has been out of action rehabbing an injury, Renan Barao has been fighting all challengers as the interim-bantamweight champion.
Though it worked for Cruz, the UFC doesn’t appear to been in it for the long run in the future. Dana White announced that the promotion is looking to establish a more concrete time limit, in regards to the length of time a champion can be out of action before being stripped of their title.
This is a move in the right direction for the UFC. Though no time limit has been announced, it appears White agrees two years of inactivity is too long. In Cruz’s case, almost everyone notices Barao as the champion, even if it is politically incorrect.
In the past, it took the UFC approximately 14 months to strip Frank Mir of his heavyweight title. Andrei Arlovski became the champion as a result of Mir’s title being stripped. That is a perfect example of how injures to champions should be handled. A champion should only be allowed a year or so to recover from an injury. If not, they should be stripped of their title and sent back to the pecking order to earn another title shot.
Interim-champions are meant to be short term. If all works out, when the champion is healthy, there would be a battle between the two to see who the undisputed champion is. For Barao, he has been the pseudo-champion since July 2012, when he beat Urijah Faber.
Barao has done plenty to warrant him being called champion. He beat up-and-comer Michael McDonal and Eddie Wineland in his two title defenses. The man should have already been called champion.
Despite the Title Defense Clause being implemented in the future, Cruz will remain champion for now. There is a strong chance he will battle Barao sometime next year for the right to be called the undisputed bantamweight champion. Unfortunately for Barao, if he loses, it will most likely mean people will forget what he has done for the division during Cruz’s two year absence.
Anthony Cloud is a MMA Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @TheAceCloud