Renan Barao is currently the UFC’s interim bantamweight champion, thanks to his impressive run that took place during a two-year hiatus from current champ Dominick Cruz. The interim title has been used by the promotion in the past when their title holders face long layoffs, which has led to some questions about whether or not the UFC would introduce an interim title for the heavyweight or lightweight divisions.
The current champions, Cain Velasquez and Anthony Pettis, recently underwent surgery that will leave them on the sidelines for a lengthy period of time, but UFC president Dana White said that the promotion has no plans to have an interim belt because of the return dates that are already outlined for the current champs.
One option that’s off the table, according to UFC President Dana White, is an interim title fight. Although Velasquez (13-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) is expected to be on the shelf for much of 2014, the executive said the general certainty of his timetable rules out the creation of another belt.
“We know when Cain’s coming back; we know when Anthony Pettis is coming back,” White said following this past Saturday’s UFC on FOX 9, which took place at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena (watch White’s UFC on FOX 9 media scrum). “We do [interim titles] when we don’t know when somebody’s going to come back or what’s going on.”
Velasquez is expected to be out until late 2014, while Pettis anticipates a return to the octagon within the first half of next year.
With both men already targeting a return, there is no reason to bring another belt in to the mix and the divisions can continue to play themselves out until the champions are ready to return to action and a true No. 1 contender is set.