“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. Third rule of Fight Club: someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: no shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.” – Tyler Durden, “Fight Club”
Dominick Cruz has had a pretty awful 2012 so far; he coached the latest season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which spanned more than twice as long as the average season due to the live format, and didn’t coach the winning fighter. He didn’t settle his fight trilogy with Urijah Faber, either, as he withdrew from their scheduled fight with an ACL Tear during his training camp. Healing up in recovery the past couple months did him no good either; the reigning UFC bantamweight champion suffered another setback as he had another surgery to repair his ACL this past week.
Apparently his body rejected the cadaver tendon use to repair his ACL and now had another one, presumably using his own body’s tissues, to repair it. With another year or so tacked onto his time off Cruz and the bantamweight division are again on hold. And now the UFC should do to Renan Barao’s desire to wait for the champion what Cruz’s body did to the cadaver tendon. Renan Barao has to defend the interim bantamweight championship; anything else at this point is promotional malpractice.
Interim titles are a boxing creation, crafted to maintain some semblance of a divisional hierarchy while a champion has a pronounced absence. In the UFC they haven’t been used very effectively and right now the UFC is coming off Carlos Condit waiting a prolonged period of time waiting for Georges St. Pierre to come back with the interim welterweight title. With Barao intending to wait out Cruz, who was scheduled to come back in the relative near future, it didn’t make sense then and is even worse now. Cruz will most likely be out of action until early 2014 if everything goes to plan and factoring in a complete fight camp. He will be unable to even get into training until next July at the earliest, roughly, and perhaps won’t be starting to train again until next fall.
Renan Barao can’t be on the sidelines and nor should the interim bantamweight title.
With a division beginning to thicken up at the top Barao right now stands as the #2 fighter in the division after a one-sided decision win over the man considered the #2 in the division in Urijah Faber. There are a number of intriguing fights waiting for him and with Cruz’s extended absence there is only thing the UFC should do right now: schedule a title defense as soon as possible.
Right now Michael MacDonald, Ivan Menjivar and Mike Easton are all on the cusp of earning title shots. All three were waiting for the title to come off the shelf, for Barao vs. Cruz to happen, and now all three should be considered for title shots in the immediate future. Renan Barao can’t stand still, waiting for Cruz to fully heal, for what is presumably a big money fight with the champion to unify the titles.
Interim titles aren’t meant as fancy nameplates for a #1 contender to hold to build intrigue for a fight. They’re meant to keep a divisional hierarchy moving forward while a champion is out. It’s time for Renan Barao to defend his title; anything else is promotional malpractice at its finest.