Today’s been a bad day if your name is Dominick Cruz. The man who’s held the UFC bantamweight title for two years while sitting on the sidelines recovering from two ACL injuries has once again been bitten by the injury bug – this time it’s his groin – and has been forced to withdraw from his UFC 169 title fight against interim 135-pound champ Renan Barao. And as per Dana White, who made a special appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter, Cruz is now officially stripped of his championship belt – a move that renders Barao the de facto full-fledged champion of the division.
Cruz’s run as king of the division began back when the WEC was in operation. He won the organization’s 135-pound strap after defeating Brian Bowles via TKO, then went on to defend it twice before the UFC bought the WEC out. The buyout turned Cruz’s WEC title into a UFC title, and in is only two UFC title defenses, the unorthodox striker defeated both Urijah Faber and Demetrious Johnson.
The win over Faber avenged the only loss of Cruz’s career.
Cruz has yet to release a statement, but it goes without saying that this is a devastating turn of events for him. The only other UFC champ to ever be stripped of his belt as a result of injury was Frank Mir, who broke his leg in a motorcycle accident.