Former bantamweight champ Renan Barao either got woefully old and ineffective, or USADA scrutiny made him lose his edge. Whatever it is, Barao is a shadow of his former self – a fact that enabled Jeremy Stephens to ding him up pretty good in their featherweight scrap.
The first round was the epitome of “back and forth”, with Barao firing off his trademark spinning back-kick and working his jab, and Stephen trying to land the kind of big punches he’s known for.
He found success with those fists in the second, with the impact marking the Brazilian up and changing the momentum of the fight in an instant. Barao stayed alive, though, and kept up the offense in Rounds 2 and 3 with a takedown and more jabs and spinning kicks, but the major scoring came whenever Stephens connected (he added knees from the clinch to the equation as well).
When time ran out the decision went to Stephens, which now begs the question: Where does the former 135-pound champ – who was so dominant in his reign – go from here in this world where he can’t seem to get a meaningful win?