Cruz-Barao to headline UFC title card

Updated: October 29, 2013, 11:10 PM ET
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

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.

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.

The Chicago native will carry a four-fight win streak into his first UFC title bid, with wins over Koch, Hatsu Hioki, Cub Swanson and Matt Grice.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


EDITORS' PICKS

MORE MMA HEADLINES