When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Such is the case with the now-undisputed UFC bantamweight champ Renan Barao, who shed the “interim” moniker when champ Dominick Cruz pulled out of UFC 169 due to injury and was stripped of his belt. Now Barao gets to come to the frigid cold of New Jersey on February 1 and take on replacement fighter Urijah Faber in what will be the new headlining match-up for the event. Of course, Barao already beat Faber once, a feat that earned him the title in the first place, but with the event only three weeks away – and no one else really that worthy – it’s the best outcome of what could be a pretty crappy situation.
Said Barao to MMAJunkie on the Faber rematch:
“Faber deserves to be the next opponent,” he said. “He’s one of the toughest guys in the division. I already fought him, but he gets better and better. I’m not surprised to see him, and I’m happy I’m going to fight him and I want to beat him again.”
“Actually, I think he’s improved in his standup fighting,” Barao said. “He’s very resilient and a tough guy. He can take punches and he’s difficult to knock out. He looked great in his last fight. But if I had to say something he’s improved on, I’d say his standup.
“For sure, he’ll come with a different strategy. But I’m ready for anything. I’m ready for the standup, I’m ready for the ground. I’m training hard for this, so I don’t care (where he wants it to go).”
As their last bout was somewhat conclusive, with the Brazilian earning the unanimous decision after five rounds in clear-cut fashion (the judges’ scores were 49-46, 50-45, 49-46), it’s difficult to see the former WEC champ posing that much of a threat. But Faber has won four fights in a row since facing Barao, and has momentum behind him. What do you think – can Faber beat Barao?