The UFC returns to pay-per view on September 21 with UFC 165 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The event is headlined by a light heavyweight title bout between champion Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson. While the 205-pound title is the main feature, Renan Barao will defend his interim bantamweight title against Eddie Wineland in the co-feature.
UFC president Dana White said that he hopes the UFC 165 co-main event will be the final time that an interim title is up for grabs.
“I hope this is the last time that it will be the interim title fight,” said White during a media conference call on Tuesday afternoon. “We’re expecting his return by the beginning of the year, and if he can’t return at the beginning of the year then we’re going to have to make a decision.
“He came in here a few weeks ago and had lunch with me and Lorenzo (Fertitta) and he was very confident that he’d be ready to go at the beginning of the year.”
Cruz hasn’t stepped inside of the octagon since October of 2011 because of multiple knee surgeries, so the UFC has given him plenty of time to return. No one would have argued if the promotion would have stripped Cruz of his belt at the beginning of this year, so there should be no complaints if they are forced to do so early in 2014.