In less than two months a grim anniversary will roll around, as October 1 will mark two years to the day since UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz last took to the Octagon and defended his title. Cruz’s plight has been well-documented, taking time off to film a season of the Ultimate Fighter only to end up tearing his ACL during taping and suffer the same injury while rehabbing. And, unfortunately, it will still be another six months if not longer before Cruz is ready to make his return.

However, Cruz has learned to avoid looking too far down the road and is instead focused on each step of recovery as it comes to him.

“It’s very important I don’t overstep my boundaries with those eight weeks. I’m only looking eight weeks ahead. I’m not looking seven months ahead,” said Cruz in a revealing conversation with Inside MMA. “I have to be real with myself. I have to be real with everybody. I can’t come back too soon. I’ve already had double-ACL surgery. This isn’t a game. This is a serious business. This is my livelihood and my life.”

While Cruz’s extended absence from the cage will almost certainly create some ring rust, “The Dominator” isn’t looking to ease himself back into the division. As the linear champion, Cruz’s sights are set on a meeting with the interim title-holder who he expects to still be Renan Barao (30-1) when he’s cleared for competition.

“That’s who I want right off the bat. If nothing else, I deserve to come back and get that title-shot. I’ve defended the title 4X if you count WEC,” explained Cruz. “I think I’ve earned the right to be able to come back when I get this knee figured out and fight for the title.”

Lending weight to his belief, Cruz is 19-1 and on a ten-fight winning streak including success against Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez, Brian Bowles, Scott Jorgensen, and Urijah Faber.

The full interview with Cruz can be seen below: