In a video interview published yesterday by MMAFighting.com, injured UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz was able to take a couple minutes to discuss the situation regarding his injury, as well as "The Dominator's" thoughts on coaching The Ultimate Fighter: Live opposite Urijah Faber.
When Helwani commented on the surprising mobility of the injured fighter, Cruz informed the Canadian reporter that he was indeed injured, and will go under the knife June 6 for treatment of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
"It's a very weird injury because there is no pain," explained Cruz. "It's one of those things where I tore my ACL and I'm lucky that's all I tore. A lot of times, people tear ACL, meniscus, LCL, all that kind of stuff.
"If I continue to train vigorously, like I need to in order to prepare for a fight, the chances of me tearing everything else in my knee are very high."
As for how much time off the Bantamweight titleholder will need to recover from his injury, Cruz is unsure, and has no interest in rushing the process more than necessary.
"Doctors are telling me about 9 months… you gotta take all the time you need because when you're competing at a championship level you have to be 100% when fighting against these guys."
"These guys" the Champ is alluding to are up-and-comers like Renan Barao and Michael McDonald, as well as perennial contender and Cruz's nemesis, Urijah Faber.
Cruz also discussed the mental aspect of the knee injury that cause significant distress, such as watching Faber and Barao square off on a date that "The Dominator" was set to face "The California Kid," to defend his belt.
"The key is staying positive… the hard part [about the injury] will be watching these guys [Faber and Barao] fight."
Now complete with filming TUF: Live, Cruz was also asked how he felt about the potential for this past season's contestants.
"A lot of them [contestants] will come out to Alliance to train with me. The point of this show is to prepare these guys for the UFC and the rest of their careers. I think I've given them all the tools to prepare them and show them what it takes to compete at the highest level. You're going to see a great career out of a lot of them."
As the interview closed out, Cruz shared his picks on the upcoming TUF: Live Finale, favoring New Yorker Al Iaquinta over Mike Chiesa, who spent the overwhelming majority of this past season coping with the passing of his father.
Chiesa's mental toughness and ability to sacrifice for his career are reasons why the Champ sees the bout against the bearded wrestler training out of Spokane, WA going to the judges' score cards.
"You can't count out Chiesa. The dude is tough as nails. He's hearted through this entire tournament with one of the toughest things to physically deal with… the passing of a family member."
For his last question with Cruz, Helwani asked the fighter with serious vested interest in the outcome of the fight for the UFC Interim Bantamweight belt, who he believes will be his next opponent after the injury.
"I think Faber's going to win. If he's smart, he takes down Barao. In the end, Faber is going to be able to grind out a win against him, a decision. In a five-round fight, I favor Faber," opined the Champ, completing the interview with an alliterative rhyming couplet.
Al Iaquinta and Mike Chiesa face off this weekend at the TUF: Live Finale, while Urijah Faber meets Renan Barao July 7 at UFC 148, to decide Cruz's next challenger to the belt.
The full interview is below:
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