Cruz-Barao to headline UFC title card
UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is scheduled to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC 169 on Feb. 1 in Newark, N.J.
A unification bout between Cruz and interim champion Renan Barao will headline the pay-per-view event, which will take place at the Prudential Center.
Additionally, featherweight champion Jose Aldo will seek his sixth UFC title defense against No. 1 contender Ricardo Lamas. UFC officials confirmed the pair of title fights Tuesday, following an initial report by Newsday.
Follow us on Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the latest MMA coverage from around the world. Follow us on Twitter and stay informed. Join »
Knee injuries have sidelined Cruz (19-1) since he recorded a second title defense over Demetrious Johnson in October 2011. The 28-year-old was scheduled to face Urijah Faber at UFC 148 in July 2012 but withdrew with a torn ACL.
Complications in Cruz's recovery have kept him out of action since. Based out of Southern California, Cruz is on a 10-fight win streak. He won the WEC bantamweight title in March 2010 and defended it twice before merging into the UFC.
Barao (31-1) has taken the UFC's 135-pound division by storm in Cruz's absence. He earned the interim title tag with a unanimous decision over Faber at UFC 149 and has since defended it twice, with wins over Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland.
The Brazilian fighter has not suffered a loss since his professional debut in April 2005. He is ranked the No. 8 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, according to ESPN.com.
Aldo (23-1) is coming off a fourth-round TKO victory over Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163 in August. Ranked No. 3 pound-for-pound by ESPN.com, Aldo is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC, with wins over Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes and Frankie Edgar.
Lamas (13-2) fought only once in 2013, recording a second-round TKO over Erik Koch at a UFC on Fox event in January. He was scheduled to fight at UFC 162 in July but was pulled from the card by the promotion.
MORE MMA HEADLINES
- Calif. modifies policy, temporarily bans TRT
- Seeing double: UFC holding 2 events May 31
- Dos Santos, Miocic to co-headline UFC 173
- Brown, Silva set for UFC Fight Night May 10
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM