Injury-cursed UFC star Dominick Cruz finally gave up his claim on the undisputed bantamweight title late last night, forced to withdraw from a unification clash with Renan Barao at UFC 169 by a groin tear.
Cruz was due to make his Octagon return in New Jersey on February 2nd, attempting to end an absence from competitive action that stretches back to October 2011 due to successive knee injuries.
Interim champ Barao has been quietly dismantling opponents in the bantamweight king's absence, winning six straight UFC fights including victories over Urijah Faber and Brad Pickett.
Cruz's latest injury not only puts paid to a huge unification clash but must surely put the ex-champions chances of returning to action at all under the microscope, with a successful defence against now flyweight king Demetrious Johnson more than two years ago a distant memory.
Faber will now step in at less than a month's notice to rematch Barao for the belt, riding a wave of confidence after rebounding from a loss to the Brazilian with four straight wins, including three successes by stoppage.
UFC 160 will now be headlined by Barao vs. Faber II, with Jose Aldo defending his featherweight strap against Ricardo Lamas in the co-main event.