If you’re looking forward to seeing Dominick Cruz throw down with Renan Barao sooner than later, then you’ll be glad to hear that the UFC Bantamweight Champion has cleared another hurdle on the way back to the Octagon. Cruz recently posted the following good news via Twitter:

Leaving LA now,n doc just cleared me to start boxing(sparring):)-one step at a time!C u wit some new tricks @UFCFanExpo!! #bettereveryday

Cruz hasn’t fought now since October, 2011, when he handed Demetrious Johnson a unanimous decision loss at UFC Live 6. The “Dominator” was expected to fight Urijah Faber for a third time last July, but several weeks before the bout he tore his ACL and had to undergo surgery. Then, as he had begun to prepare for his return, Cruz re-injured the knee last fall and has been on the sidelines ever since.

Whether you’re a big Cruz fan or not, there’s no denying that he is one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters. Going undefeated in nine UFC and WEC bouts, and defeating the likes of Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, Scott Jorgensne, Brian Bowles, Ian McCall and Johnson, should be proof of that.

Of course, since Cruz has been out Renan Barao has been ruling the division as interim champ, so that’s an all-star bout that the UFC can’t wait to book. There’s no word yet as to when Barao is expected to return from the the foot injury that pulled him from UFC 161; however, the interim champ has reported that he doesn’t expect to be sidelined for very long.

Photo Credit: Scott Petersen / MMA Weekly.com