“The California Kid” Urijah Faber (26-5-0) vs. Renan Barao (28-1-0-1)
Urijah Faber coached a whole season of the Ultimate Fighter opposite of Dominick Cruz so he could finally have his rubber match, and then finally the feud between the two would be over. Unfortunately, an ACL tear has barred Cruz from competing. So, instead of postponing the fight Urijah will now need to settle for an interim title fight. His opponent is none other than Renan Barao. Barao owns one of the longest winning streaks alive in MMA, but he has never fought anyone quite like Faber.
Urijah Faber is an innovator in the lighter weight divisions, but after as fighters became more powerful and the new 135 lb debuted, he made the drop down. At bantamweight he has already vied for the title once, but has fallen short. Faber has always been a strong wrestler with a great submission game, but as of late he has started to add power in his hands. he was able to drop current champ Cruz multiple times, and he hurt former champion Brian Bowles with a punch before choking him out. Urijah has never been complacent, always surrounding himself with the best fighters, and has always continued to evolve. That is why he is one of the most well rounded fighters in MMA.
Many of the same adjectives can be applied to Renan Barao as well , and that is why this fight is so intriguing. The one issue that Barao will have to deal with is Faber’s high level wrestling, and they may be the determining factor in this fight. If Faber can take Barao down, and nullify his Jiu-jitsu game then this will be a hard fight for Renan. The problem is that beyond the wrestling the match is very even. Both are dynamic strikers, their reach is very close, neither have a weak chin and both have superb grappling. This match may be determined by whoever makes a mistake first.
The Bottom Line: Barao needs to finish this fight in the first three to have a shot at this. Faber will push him, and may even tire him out. He can take control and steal the later rounds. If Barao is not ahead on the scorecards he could lose the decision. So, look for Faber to take a close but unanimous decision.