UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will not be stripped of his title despite an 18-month injury-related absence and no set return date.
Cruz hasn't defended the 135-pound title since October 2011, but UFC president Dana White told ESPN.com definitively on Tuesday he would remain the official title holder.
"He will keep and defend his title," said White, via text.
The UFC has only stripped a champion of a title for injury-related reasons once. In 2004, heavyweight champion Frank Mir was involved in a motorcycle accident, which sidelined him until 2006. He relinquished the title in mid-2005.
Cruz, 27, tore his ACL last May while preparing for a title bout against Urijah Faber. He underwent surgery in June, only to go back under the knife in December when his body rejected the cadaver ligament used in the first operation. He is in his second session of rehab on the knee.
In July, the UFC crowned an interim champion in Renan Barao, after a unanimous decision victory over Faber at UFC 149.