Coming off over a two year absence from the octagon Dominick Cruz is set to unify his bantamweight title on February 3rd against not only one of the sports top P4P fighters but a definite Superstar on the rise in current UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao who has won 30 straight fights in his pro MMA career
Cruz had suffered a major setback in the definite prime of his MMA career stemming from two ACL injuries one of which occurred during the TUF 15 series taping where he was set to defend his title in a rubber match against fellow foe Uriah Faber following the TUF series. Cruz rehabbed and was inactive 9 months hoping to return upon which he was not able to and suffered yet another setback due to a complication from the previous ACL surgery, which then required another surgery and another 7-9 months off and rehab once again
When Cruz makes his return at UFC 169 he will have been out a total of 28 months since his last fight which took place Oct 1st 2011 where he defeated the current Flyweight 125lb champ Demetrious" Mighty Mouse" Johnson Standing across the cage opposite Cruz will be the current and many would argue the true UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao
Barao earned the Interim title at UFC 149 back in July 2011 with a decision victory over Uriah Faber and has only gotten better defending the Interim title twice in the absence of Cruz a UFC record. Once against Michael McDonald at UFC on Fuel in London England February 2013 where he submitted a very tough young opponent in McDonald and then recently defeated Eddie Wineland at UFC 165 where he finished Wineland via TKO in impressive fashion earning submission of the night and knock out of the night honors in both title defenses. Barao has wanted the fight with Cruz for sometime which he will finally get on February 1st.
In a pre fight interview before UFC 165 with Ariel Helwani Barao said quote "I am the Champ I consider myself the Champ"
"Renan Barao hasn't been challenged the way I'm going to challenge him" *Dominick Cruz*
With the main event at UFC 169 set we are just over a month away, many questions will be asked and answered on that night in New Jersey.
Will ring rust play a major factor for Cruz? Can he perform and the high level he did before his absence from the sport? Will coming off a long layoff and immediately taking on a killer like Barao not vote well for the Champ? Or will his reign continue in 2014 with a win over his most difficult challenge yet proving all doubters wrong in the process