On Nov. 5, 2011, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight Renan Barao increased his undefeated streak to 28 fights when he picked apart "One Punch" Brad Pickett at UFC 138 in Birmingham, England.
Barao was very impressive, putting on a virtual muay thai clinic, which was followed up by a rear-naked choke that had the hometown favorite, Pickett, gasping for air and tapping desperately.
After winning his first two UFC fights, Barao feels he's ready to take on the best of the best. He wants to be considered the top contender and thinks he should get a crack at Dominick Cruz and his belt next.
Here's what Barao had to say to Tatame about his future aspirations:
"I'm training with my team and, when I have the chance, I'll grab it with all I've got. I'll be prepared to do my best for the fans each time I go in there," Renan said. "When the opportunity presents itself, I'll be prepared and focused to bring this belt to Brazil. I know he's (Cruz) a tough guy, he got a lot of stamina, but I'll set a game plan along with my coaches to bring the win."
Barao is still somewhat of an unknown to many UFC fans, but he's unlikely to stay under the radar for much longer.
He hasn't lost since 2005, when he was unable to secure a win in his very first mixed martial arts (MMA) bout. He hasn't lost since, and for the most part, it hasn't been close. Barao is a Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) black belt, who happens to have a strong muay thai background and a very exciting stand up game.
But should the promising Brazilian be next in line for the belt?
If Faber were to win, it would set up an exciting re-match that would be a sure hit with fans. If Bowles is able to upset "The California Kid," it certainly creates a less marketable situation, but it would be hard to deny him a chance to fight for the belt.
Joseph Benavidez is also an option, having won his last three fights in a row. However, Benavidez has already lost to Cruz -- twice.
For now, it looks like Barao's best chance is to hope for either an injury to push him to the front of the line or that the UFC ends up wanting to feature Cruz on an event sooner than Faber or Bowles would be able to be ready for.
What do you think, Maniacs? Does Barao deserve the shot or does he still need to prove it in the Octagon? Who do you want to see Dominick Cruz fight next?