Last night, at the UFC 165 event in Toronto, Canada interim UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao won via TKO in round 2 of his title defense against Eddie Wineland. For the Brazilian Barao, it was the second defense of the title he won by beating Urijah Faber a little over a year ago, and a lot of the talk at the UFC press conference from the media and from UFC President Dana White had Barao joining the top pound for pound fraternity with another showstopping performance.
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White went on to state that Dominic Cruz was talking about being ready at the beginning of next year. He stated ‘he liked Cruz’ and that despite a two year absence from competition, he would remain the champion and that his return match would be a unification bout with Barao.
The indications are that Cruz does not want to get stripped of his belt, which means despite his long layoff, he is pretty much forced into the Barao fight, which is the toughest fight possible at this point. Cruz is probably willing to do the fight without reservations, but he should probably have some. Barao is a dangerous opponent, and it is time that we admit that Cruz may not return at the same level he was at before he was sidelined with the knee.
This is going to be a scary fight to set the lines on, but it would not surprise me to see Barao come in as the favorite. Cruz will still get some respect as his 19-1 record against many of the best fighters in or near the weight class is very impressive, but the fact is that no one can be sure how Cruz will respond to Barao.
Barao wants it too. Barao is being mercenary, but he would like to get his hands around the real title, and that has always belonged to Cruz. If Cruz gets in the octagon in front of him, he will show Cruz no quarter.
It would seem like a bad idea to have Cruz comeback to fight Barao immediately, but Cruz may have nothing left in the tank at all, and he may be pushing for the fight as a way to maximize his payday. What has Dominic Cruz been doing for income over the last two years?