Now that Dominick Cruz has gone down with another knee injury, the UFC will have to shift gears in terms of determining who bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw will fight next.
After Cruz made his triumphant return in September, by storming through Takeya Mizugaki, UFC President Dana White confirmed that the former champ would face Dillashaw. Not long ago, however, Cruz announced the devastating news that he’s injured his ACL once more, and will be out for much of 2015.
Well, White was asked about the bantamweight title shot situation while speaking to the media this week, and according to a report from MMA Junkie.com, here is what he had to say:
“Probably Renan Barao,” White said, while discussing who will fight Dillashaw next. “Renan just fought and won. They would have fought before if he made weight.”
Barao was supposed to rematch Cruz in August, following his stoppage loss to the latter in May, but things went south during his weight cut and he had to withdraw. More recently, the Brazilian star tapped out Mitch Gagnon at a UFC Fight Night card last month, and considering Barao’s jaw dropping record, it’s not surprising to hear White say this. Especially since fellow contender Raphael Assuncao, who holds a win over Dillashaw, recently broke his anke.
Then of course, there’s also Urijah Faber, who continues to hold down a position at the top of the 135 rankings. Faber is coming off back-to-back victories over Alex Caceres and Francisco Rivera, after he was stopped by Barao last February.
Since Faber and Dillashaw are teammates at Team Alpha Male, the consensus has been that the two won’t fight, unless there’s really no other option. When White asked about the possibility of Dillashaw-Faber materializing at some juncture, however, he stated:
“Defintiely,” White said. “They’re definitely open to it.
How about that? Of course, just because they may have told White they’d be “open” to fighting, doesn’t mean Dillashaw-Faber will happen any time soon. If Dillashaw gets by Barao for a second time, one would think Assuncao will be next for a title shot, considering his 7 fight winning streak and his decision win over the champ.
Now it just remains to be seen when Dillashaw-Barao will get booked. The champion hasn’t fought now since August, when he KO’d Barao’s replacement, Joe Soto.