- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chalk up Dominick Cruz as another UFC champion on the disabled list.
The bantamweight title holder is expected to have surgery on his broken left index finger this week. He suffered the injury during training camp for his first title defense against Joseph Benavidez last August. He chose to fight through the injury instead of having surgery right away because he didn't want to postpone the fight.
The surgery will prevent Cruz (17-1) from any contact training for as long as three months and might postpone his return to the octagon until early summer. Although the San Diego-based fighter is hopeful he'll resume hitting pads within 12 weeks, he knows an official return date will be up to the UFC.
"It could be six months, but I'm not planning on six months," Cruz said. "I'll say that it will take me eight weeks to recover and 12 weeks to punch again. [My return] has nothing to do with me being ready. That has to do with the UFC booking cards. I can't book myself on a card if I'm not ready.
"Bottom line is just finding that opening on a card and having the time right on my hand."
Cruz had actually scheduled the surgery for Monday morning in Chicago but was stuck at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport instead, due to flight delays. Although he wasn't sure exactly when the procedure would be rescheduled, he was hopeful it would take place by the end of the week.
Whenever Cruz does make his debut in the UFC octagon, he admits he'd still like it be against the only fighter in the world that holds a win over him -- former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber.
Faber (24-4) scored a first-round submission win over Cruz in 2007. He's scheduled to face Eddie Wineland at UFC 128 in March.
While Cruz said he's most interested in fighting the highest ranked opponents, a chance to avenge the loss against Faber is definitely an opportunity he'd enjoy.
"I want the best guy in the world. If Urijah gets beat in his next fight, then he's not the best guy in the world," Cruz said. "But, yes, I'd like to fight Urijah. It's easier to fight somebody that talks as much as he does and on top of that, the things he's done in the sport -- you have to beat someone like him to make a name for yourself."
The UFC has recently had a string of bad luck regarding injuries to its champions. Newly-crowned heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is expected to miss six to eight months due to a torn rotator cuff. Light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is set to return to the octagon in March after being sidelined since last May with knee surgery. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo recently pulled out of a scheduled bout at UFC 125 on Jan. 1 due to a back injury.
Despite that, UFC president Dana White recently told ESPN.com he wouldn't consider holding more interim title fights as long as there were timetables on his champions' recoveries.
Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com.