Dominick Cruz Withdraws from UFC 169, Vacates Bantamweight Belt

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

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

UFC President Dana White appeared on ESPN's SportsCenter on Monday to announce that UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is withdrawing from his title unification bout with interim champion Renan Barao at UFC 169

A groin tear suffered during training is the reason behind Cruz's withdrawal from the fight, which was set to headline the event. With his latest setback, he will vacate the belt, which promotes Barao to undisputed champion of the 135-pound division.

This marks the first time a UFC belt has been forfeited due to inactivity since 2005, per's Brett Okamoto.

No. 1 contender Urijah Faber will now fight Barao for the bantamweight belt on Feb. 1. Barao vs. Faber will remain the main event and the featherweight championship bout between Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas will stay as the co-main event, per Shaun Al-Shatti of

Barao beat Faber in 2012 to become the interim title-holder. He has defended the belt against Michael McDonald (whom he submitted at UFC on Fuel TV 9) and Eddie Wineland (whom he knocked out at UFC 158).

Faber, meanwhile, has won four straight fights since losing to Barao.

"Not only is [Faber] ready for this, the guy is a stud and stepped up and took the fight on three weeks notice," White said on SportsCenter.

It's not known how long Cruz will be out of commission from his latest injury, but it is a huge blow for the now-former champion, who has been sidelined by a series of knee problems since Oct. 2011. He has sacrificed a great deal of his athletic prime due to injury.

It is also unclear if Cruz will immediately fight the winner of Barao vs. Faber when he returns, or if he will be forced to work his way back to a title shot.