MMA Power Rankings -- BANTAMWEIGHT
Monday, July 23
The trilogy fight between Dominick Cruz and Urijah may have hit a permanent snag -- a snag named Renan Barao, draped in Brazilian green and yellow, who used his reach and arsenal of staple-gun quick striking to hack down Faber over five rounds at UFC 149. There were plenty of people who thought Barao would wilt against an experienced foe in a big headlining spot, or that his cardio would falter in the championship rounds. It didn't play out like that. A very poised Barao kept Faber at the end of his punches and was never in danger for 25 minutes.
Now the 25-year old Barao -- whose unbeaten streak is at 30 -- is the UFC's interim titleholder and the question becomes: Will he wait on the division's top man, Dominick Cruz? Should he do that, UFC 149 is the last time we'll see the Nova Uniao product in 2012. And, once again, the concept behind what an interim belt stands for will be thrown into question, because why have a placeholder belt if it's not going to be defended?
Does voluntary limbo by the interim titleholder not defeat the purpose of perpetuating title fights in the actual belt's forced absence?
One fight the UFC may look to make if he Barao does decide to defend his title would be against 21-year old Michael McDonald, who might carry the heaviest hands at 135 pounds. McDonald is coming off knockouts of Miguel Torres and Alex Soto, and has a similar sort of intrigue that Barao did as he neared UFC 149. That becomes the biggest bantamweight fight the UFC can make while Cruz heals from ACL surgery.