Richard Drew/Associated Press
This is a superfight MMA fans have been dreaming of for quite some time. TJ Dillashaw may have put a damper on this potential bout, but the UFC can still make Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao happen.
Dana White told reporters in April that Cruz could get an immediate title shot upon his return, but it's unclear if a Dillashaw-Cruz fight would sell as much as Barao-Cruz would.
If Cruz doesn't get the immediate title shot, it would make sense to pair these two up. Cruz hasn't competed since 2011 due to a series of injuries, but is still widely regarded as one of the best bantamweights in the world.
It may be more beneficial for Cruz to take a "tune-up fight" in his return, but given the risk/reward of taking what is perceived as an easy fight, he might as well fight Barao in a chance to re-validate his status as an elite fighter.
Cruz is one of the most agile strikers in recent memory, possessing some of the best—or worst, depending on your viewpoint—footwork in MMA to go with a solid wrestling base as well.
Very few fighters—none inside the Octagon—have been able to solve the Cruz riddle. However, Barao has all the tools to do just that.
He's explosive, technical and has the grappling credentials to give Cruz a handful no matter where the fight takes place.
A Barao-Cruz fight could easily be marketed as a No. 1 contender fight and either headline a UFC on Fox show or provide a quality co-main event for a pay-per-view.