UFC Targeting Summer Date for Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao If Cruz Is Healthy

Damon MartinContributor IFebruary 16, 2013

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 11:  Ultimate Fighting Championship Bantamweight fighter Dominick Cruz speaks to the media prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 11, 2012 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Renan Barao became the first non-heavyweight in UFC history to defend an interim title with his win over Michael McDonald in the UFC on Fuel 7 main event.

While interim titles have popped up from time to time in UFC history, rarely does the promotion like to use them or much less have them defended if they can help it.

Only in times of injury when a champion has been sidelined for extended periods of time has the UFC opted to introduce interim titles, like the one that Barao currently holds after bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz shredded his knee and required two separate surgeries to repair the damage.

UFC President Dana White hopes to eliminate the interim bantamweight title sometime this summer if Cruz can return healthy and finally face Barao to determine the undisputed 135-pound champion.

"As soon as Cruz is healthy," White answered when asked when he would like to unify the titles when speaking to Bleacher Report after the UFC on Fuel 7 press conference. "I hope this summer."

Cruz suffered the knee injury prior to his scheduled matchup with Urijah Faber in July 2012, but the had a setback when the ligament didn't hold and his doctors had to go in and essentially redo the surgery for a second time. The setback forced Cruz back into the operating room and out of action once again.

The last time Cruz fought was when he defeated Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Versus in October 2011.

The champion has been sitting on the sidelines since then just waiting on his knee to fully heal so he can get back in action.

If his rehabilitation goes well over these next few months, the hope is for Cruz to get cleared and return to full training, and then meet Barao during the summer months to unify the titles.

Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.