UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao will attempt to secure his fourth straight title defense against TJ Dillashaw in the main event of tonight’s (May 24, 2014) UFC 173 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The dominant Nova Uniao-trained Barao recently made the news for stating that he was hoping to get a better contract with the UFC, but “The Baron” soon spoke up to clarify that he wasn’t unhappy with his current situation.
What’s more, Barao recently told ESPN Brazil that he has now gotten his contract completely sorted out by signing a new three-fight deal with the UFC:
“My contract has just been renewed. Any controversy was clarified. Now I have three more fights ahead, and everything is great. Everything is working as planned. Who takes care of this is Dede, and all is well, everything well.”
Barao is speaking of famed trainer and mentor Dede Pederneiras, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu master who trained BJ Penn and now counts featherweight champion Jose Aldo and Barao as his two most prominent students at Nova Uniao.
UFC president Dana White said that Barao has usurped his good friend Aldo as the world’s No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighter, but Barao said that wasn’t the case, at least not yet:
“Oh no, do not think so. Aldo is still the best. He is the best in the category and I in mine. We are showing our work. I was very happy for the recognition, which is the fruit of my labor. But I’m coming now.”
The surging “Baron” has high respect for Aldo, who has drawn a decent amount of criticism as of late, with most of it centered on his supposedly safe fighting style that is running low on recent finishes.
And with Barao taking out top-flight contenders like Urijah Faber, Eddie Wineland, and Michael McDonald in rapid succession, he’s getting closer to clearing out his division than any other UFC champion.
While the Brazilian talent isn’t the most marketable star as of yet, his skills are beginning to speak for themselves. Now he has a new contract in place, which is one less distraction heading into tonight’s main event. Will that spell certain doom for Dillashaw?
Photo: Joe Camporeale for USA TODAY Sports