Dominick Cruz out of UFC 169, Vacates Title; Urijah Faber to Challenge Barao

Hunter Homistek@HunterAHomistekCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2014

Dominick Cruz suffered a groin tear that forced him out of his UFC 169 title fight against Renan Barao. 

In Cruz's place, Team Alpha Male product Urijah Faber will challenge Barao on the Feb. 1 card, according to MMAFighting.com

The UFC's official Twitter account teased the news:

Cruz—who has not fought since October 2011 due to a variety of injuries—had to cough up his bantamweight title after this latest setback. As a result, Barao is now the official, undisputed 135-pound champion. 

To fill the void left by Cruz, the UFC 169 main attraction will now feature "The California Kid," winner of four straight dating back to February 2013. 

Losing Cruz to injury (again) is unfortunate for the UFC and its fans, but Faber represents a solid draw and a polarizing figure within the sport. His most recent wina second-round guillotine choke over Michael McDonald at UFC on Fox 9was utterly dominant, and it convinced the UFC brass to give him a shot at the title. 

Faber has previously challenged for the bantamweight belt inside the Octagon on two occasions. First, he lost to Cruz at UFC 132 in July 2011. 

After a quick victory over Brian Bowles at UFC 139, he again fought for the title at UFC 149 in June 2012this time against Barao for the interim bantamweight championship. Barao won that fight in convincing fashion, cruising to a unanimous decision and solidifying himself as the top challenger to Cruz's official title. 

Now, Faber and Barao will again face off with title implications on the linethis time for the undisputed championship. 

Both men have gone undefeated since their UFC 149 encounter, with Barao posting a 2-0 record with two finishes and Faber going 4-0 with three finishes. 

Needless to say, both men are operating near peak levels, and the UFC 169 showdown promises fireworks between two of the promotion's finest athletes. 

No word has yet been released on Cruz's return. 

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