09 May 2012
When news broke earlier this week that UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz had torn his ACL putting his much anticipated title defense against nemesis Urijah Faber in jeopardy you could almost hear the string of “F-bombs” radiating out of Dana White’s office. Though, it would be hard not to see why the UFC brass would be considerably down on the news. After all, a tremendous amount of money and hype have gone into the buildup of Cruz-Faber III which was slated for the co-main event at UFC 148 in Las Vegas on July 7. The UFC had gone to great lengths in building up the fight between Cruz and Faber, who it seems legitimately do not like each other one bit, by casting them as opposing coaches on this season’s The Ultimate Fighter. This was huge given that this season TUF is airing live (well at least the fights are) on the show’s new home, cable channel FX.
But, such are the breaks of the fight game and while TUF finales have fizzled before, a few seasons back saw Brock Lesnar bow out of his anticipated fight with Junior dos Santos due to a flair up of diverticulitis, this setback is a bitter pill to swallow for the UFC. OF course, the MMA juggernaut is well prepared to handle such unforeseen circumstances. That is what, arguably, sets the UFC apart from the other top MMA promotions. No other promotion has the financial resources or roster of fighters to make quick contingency plans.
This was made evident last night on UFC Live as Dana White announced that Faber will now fight for the interim bantamweight title at UFC 148.
“He is going to fight on the same card. Now I’m looking for the right opponent who will fight Faber,” said White.
To date there have been no official confirmations as to who will step in to face Faber for the belt. Most speculate that Brazilian Renan Barao will be the luck fighter to draw the bout which would appease most fight fans. Barao is a legitimate top-tier fighter with as diverse and dynamic style as one will see in the cage. A Faber-Barao fight would be suitable substitutions given the potential for an all-out war should these two face each other.
As for Cruz, White has assured fans that he reigning champion will stay on as a coach through this season’s TUF.