UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is on the road to recovery following back-to-back reconstructive knee surgeries, but his timetable for a return date is still yet to be determined.
A report surfaced on Wednesday via MMAFighting.com that Cruz told current UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao that he would be ready in February 2014 after rehabbing his knee.
"He told me he’s returning (to fighting) on February," Barao stated. "I was really happy to hear that. I hope he can return so we can finally fight."
February may very well end up being a possibility, but it's not set in stone just yet.
According to Eric Del Fierro, Cruz's head coach and team leader at the Alliance Training Center where the UFC bantamweight champion trains, the top 135-pound fighter is working toward his comeback but not pushing things beyond his doctor's orders.
"It's a guess," Del Fierro told Bleacher Report via text message on Tuesday about the potential return date for Cruz being in February. "There is no date set, hopefully sooner rather than later. Just progressing as (the) doctor allows."
Cruz suffered the original injury on his knee in May 2012 after a training accident forced him out of his scheduled fight against Urijah Faber at UFC 148. The former WEC champion had total reconstructive surgery on his ACL and was on the mend when another setback occurred.
Cruz's body had rejected the cadaver ligament used in his knee, so in December 2012 he had to undergo yet another complete reconstructive knee surgery on his ACL.
Since that time, he has been slowly but surely working his way back into the gym, building his leg up over time and not pushing the pace beyond what his body can handle.
The UFC has allowed him to take as much time as he needs to get back to full health, and to this day he remains the recognized UFC bantamweight champion.
Meanwhile, the promotion did crown an interim champion in Barao, who will go for his second title defense in a row at UFC 165 against former WEC bantamweight king Eddie Wineland.
Cruz will continue his journey back to full health so he can unify the belts when he returns, most likely in 2014.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.