Bantamweight champ, current TUF coach headed to sidelines, recovery
Cruz has injured an anterior cruciate ligament, according to UFC president Dana White, who promised more information on the injury and possibly on the fallout that will come from Cruz now needing to pull out of his co-main event against Urijah Faber. White announced the news through his Twitter account, which had been reported earlier Monday by several other news media outlets.
Cruz and Faber were scheduled to meet in a trilogy rubber match for Cruz’s 135-pound title on July 7 at UFC 148, which will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight originally was to be scheduled as the main event on the pay-per-view. But venue issues forced a middleweight title fight between champion Anderson Silva and top contender Chael Sonnen from Rio de Janeiro to UFC 148, making that the main event and Cruz-Faber co-main. Now that fight will have to wait.
Cruz (19-1, 2-0 UFC), the former bantamweight champion in the WEC, has defended his title twice since the merger with the UFC. He also defended it in his final two WEC fights, giving him four straight successful defenses – all decisions. Faber (26-5, 2-1 UFC) lost to Cruz last year at UFC 132, but earned top contender status again after a submission win over Brian Bowles in November at UFC 139.
Cruz and Faber currently are coaching opposite each other on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter LIVE.” Their rematch in July was to be the traditional fight between opposing coaches on the show, which wraps up with the TUF Live Finale on June 1 in Las Vegas. There was no news as of early Monday evening on how much time on the show Cruz will be forced to miss. The 16 fighters that started in the bracket have been pared down to eight for the quarterfinals, which start this Friday with a pair of live fights on the FX cable network.
The severity of Cruz’s injury was not announced, but White said the fighter “blew” his ACL. It is also not yet known if Faber will take a replacement fight in the meantime or if he will elect to wait until Cruz has healed. Depending on the injury’s severity, the champion could be out for a prolonged period of time.