(Barao’s success in MMA has caught the attention of Hollywood. He’ll be appearing in the next ‘Fast & Furious’ movie, playing the part of a dead raccoon lying by the side of the road. / Photo via Getty)
Already the longest-reigning interim champion in UFC history in terms of time holding the belt, bantamweight phenom Renan Barao could become the first UFC fighter to defend an interim belt twice when he takes on Eddie Wineland later this month at UFC 165. But being an interim champ isn’t exactly something that Barao takes pride in.
We can see how Barao might be confused, considering that he does in fact own a championship belt, and the real champ is nowhere in sight. Cruz, of course, has been sidelined for nearly two years due to a blown ACL and resulting complications. And although the UFC has been patient with “The Dominator”‘s long absence, the promotion may finally be setting an ultimatum on his return. As UFC president Dana White said during the conference call:
“I hope this is the last time it’ll be an interim title fight. [Cruz] came in here a few weeks ago and had lunch with me and Lorenzo (Fertitta). He was very confident that he would be ready to go at the beginning of the year. If he can’t return at the beginning of the year, then we’re going to have to make a decision.”
The only logical “decision” at that point would be to strip Cruz and award the unified belt to Barao, who has done a fantastic job sustaining the division in Cruz’s absence. Not that we don’t appreciate Cruz’s fancy footwork and Norman Bates-esque good looks, but enough’s enough. Hell, if it were up to us, Barao would receive the unified belt right there in the Octagon if he manages to beat Wineland on September 21st. Anybody see it differently?