Cruz injured again, so Faber faces Barao for 135-pound strap

Published on Tuesday, 1/7/14, at 12:23 a.m. Eastern.
Updated on Tuesday, 1/7/14, at 6:11 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

In an unfortunate turn of events for Dominick Cruz, he has been forced to vacate his bantamweight title and pull out of his Feb. 1 fight against Renan Barao. Therefore, Urijah Faber will step in on short notice to face Barao for the 135-pound title in the UFC 169 co-main event at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Cruz suffered a torn groin in training for his return to the Octagon. He hasn’t fought since beating Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson in October of 2011.

Cruz has been sidelined by a pair of ACL tears. This latest setback is devastating a one for the 28-year-old Cruz, who defended his UFC belt twice before the injury bug hit.

Barao has been the interim champ since beating Faber by unanimous decision at UFC 149. The Brazilian hasn’t tasted defeat since his first professional fight in 2005.

Faber has won four consecutive fights since losing to Barao, including a Submission of the Night victory over Michael McDonald on Dec. 14. He has lost five straight title fights, three in the WEC and two in the UFC.

Barao was a -180 favorite in the first fight against Faber. I think we’ll see Barao favored in the -200 to -240 range this time around.

UPDATE: opened Barao as a -300 favorite early this afternoon. As of 6:00 p.m. Easter on Jan. 7, Barao has been bet down to -275. Faber is available on the comeback for a +215 return (risk $100 to win $215).

Also, Alistair Overeem has been installed at one offshore book as a -294 ‘chalk’ versus Frank Mir, who is a +200 underdog. Mir and Overeem are most likely fighting for their jobs with the promotion.

For UFC 170, Rory MacDonald is a -200 favorite vs. Demian Maia (+160) in a welterweight scrap.

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