UFC president Dana White, appearing on Monday's ESPN "SportsCenter," confirmed news of a groin tear for Cruz. In his place will step Urijah Faber to face Barao.
The card takes place February 1 from Newark, New Jersey. The co-main event features UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo meeting Ricardo Lamas.
Faber (30-6) and Barao (31-1) met before, with the Brazilian scoring a decision victory and the interim title in the process in 2012. Since that loss, "The California Kid" has earned three submissions and a decision, including a recent victory over Michael McDonald last month.
Barao has posted back-to-back stoppage wins over McDonald and Eddie Wineland in title defenses.
"Renan Barao's been tearing through everybody," White remarked. "But Faber's been on a tear, too, with four straight wins against the best in the world."
Cruz (19-1) has been sidelined for more than two years with knee issues. He was set to meet Faber back after the two coached opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter.
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