Interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao is three months away until his unification bout with current champ Dominick Cruz at UFC 169. The Brazilian cannot wait to climb into the cage with 'The Dominator' to prove once and for all who is number one at 135-pounds.
The unification fight will be Cruz's return to the UFC since a more than two-year long layoff with injury . His last fight was a unanimous decision win over current flyweight champ , Demitrious Johnson, back in October 2011.
Cruz's struggle with injury had been well documented, tearing his ACL during a training session following his fight with Johnson, then damaging the same knee again. It's fair to say 'The Dominator's' road back to the cage hasn't been an easy one.
While Cruz has been healing up Barao has been on a tear. He beat Urijah Faber for the interim championship at UFC 149 in July 2012. Barao has since defended his belt twice with two dominant finishes over highly ranked contenders.The first was a fourth round arm triangle against Michael McDonald at UFC on Fuel TV 7. The next was a vicious spinning back kick knockout over Eddie Wineland at UFC 165.
In fairness, Barao has not been given the recognition he rightly deserves. The Nova Uniao-trained fighter is on one of the longest winning streaks in MMA history, having not been beat in eight years. His only loss coming in his debut back in 2005. Since then the #6 ranked pound-for-pound fighter has been unstoppable in his last thirty two bouts.
Cruz has also had an impressive run in his MMA career with nineteen wins in his previous twenty bouts. His only loss coming in a featherweight title fight against 'The California Kid' back in 2007. Since dropping to bantamweight the fighter has gone unbeaten in his last ten fights . The fact still remains though that the champ hasn't been in the cage in nearly two years. Whether he likes to admit it or not, ring rust will be a factor.
Odds for the bout have not been published yet but they are bound the favor Barao. The Brazilian fighter has ripped through the bantamweight division in Cruz's absence, looking almost unbeatable in every performance.
The fight should prove to be an exciting bout nevertheless. If Cruz can return to his pre-injury form he should be a stiff test for the Brazilian. With all that said though can even 'The Dominator' stop Barao. Or will the Brazilan add another victim on to his record ?