As of Monday, it has been two years and six days since UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz last fought instead the octagon.
Knee surgery caused him to miss his title defense against Urijah Faber at UFC 148 (the co-main event with Anderson Silva's rematch against Chael Sonnen). A second knee surgery caused an even longer delay for Cruz.
UFC president Dana White said recently that Cruz is training and targeting February 2014 for a return to the cage, presumably against interim champion Renan Barao. White has said he would consider stripping Cruz of the belt if he can't fight in February.
On a conference call with select media Monday, White said he is leaning toward implementing some sort of formal language that stipulates a time frame for champions to defend their title or be stripped of it.
But White did not indicate that the UFC would begin such a policy with Cruz.
“it’s a combination of me feeling really bad for him and him being such a great person,” White said Monday. "Do I think we let it play out too long? Maybe. But if I look at who the champion is, then, maybe not."
White said that Cruz was set to earn points off the pay-per-view buys at UFC 148, thus costing him a significant amount of money. Combine that with not being able to fight his biggest rival in Urijah Faber and then the possibility of having his title stripped from him, White said, “You just couldn't kick a guy more when he’s down."
So, is it possible that Cruz could be stripped of the title if he's not ready to fight in February? Said White, “I think we made it pretty clear what’s gonna happen if he’s not.”