Dominick Cruz (19-1) looks to return in early 2013 after he tore his ACL, just two months before he was set to conclude his trilogy against the only fighter to place a blemish on his record, Urijah Faber (26-6).
It has been eight weeks since Cruz went under the knife and the recovery is right on track.
"The knee's doing as well as it can be in this short amount of time that has gone by," said Cruz. "I've been doing therapy the whole time and I'm doing well. I'm a little bit ahead of schedule on the mobility of my knee and where I'm at."
Though Cruz feels he should be back in the gym early next year, he's not taking any chances that may further the prognosis.
"I would say probably next year and hopefully if all things go well I should be back to training within six months," said Cruz. "I've been listening to the doctors so I don't reinjure myself. I'm going to say at the beginning of next year [to return]."
While the timing is rough on Cruz as there are challengers for his bantamweight championship, he says the encouragement from fans helps.
"The crappiest part about this whole situation is the timing," said Cruz. "Not only can it not be rushed, but on top of that you have people who are looking forward to see me comeback. The support and motivation has been a huge help for me. I really appreciate the fans helping me through this situation and understanding where I'm at."
While out with the injury, Renan Barão (29-1-1 NC) defeated Faber to become the interim bantamweight champion at UFC 149. Upon Cruz's return, the two will fight to unify the title.
"I personally am in this sport to fight the best in the world and be the best," said Cruz.
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