MANILA, Philippines – UFC champion Renan Barao said he no longer needs to face Dominick Cruz after becoming a full-fledged bantamweight champion.
Barao, the interim bantamweight champion, was supposed to challenge Cruz, who has been holding the full championship despite being sidelined by injuries for two years.
But Cruz sustained a groin injury ahead of their UFC 169 bout this February and this forced him to relinquish the title in favor of Barao.
"I was surprised with the news that Dominick Cruz got hurt again, but I always felt I was the undisputed bantamweight champion," Barao said in MMA Fighting. "He hasn’t fought for a long time and I have defended my belt. "
Barao said he has long wanted to face Cruz since their WEC days, but it wasn’t meant to be.
"I'm sad that he’s injured. I was training and hoping for this battle since WEC. I hope that he recovers soon, but I don’t feel the need to fight him to prove I’m the [real] champion."
Meanwhile, Barao said he looks forward to a rematch against Uriah Faber, whom he dominated in UFC 149.
He said he doesn’t mind being matched up with Faber on short notice.
"I believe that choosing Faber to fight me was a fair [decision]," Barao said. "He’s one of the best in my division and has evolved a lot since our last fight. He’s going to do his best on fight night, so will I."