Even before Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz pulled up lame (again), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White wanted his 135-pound interim kingpin, Renan Barao, to remain active and keep the division moving as the "Dominator" rehabilitated a surgically repaired knee.
However, Barao -- who is riding a ridiculous 29-fight mixed martial arts (MMA) win streak that dates back to 2005 -- was content to wait for Cruz to recover rather than risk the opportunity to unify the world title. Now, with Cruz sustaining a setback in training that required additional corrective surgery, it appears that the Brazilian will have no other choice but to move forward in 2013.
And, according to White -- who confirmed with Ariel Helwani of "UFC Tonight" on FUEL TV this evening -- Barao can expect to defend his interim title in 2013 against Michael McDonald. No potential event, venue or date is known at this time, but an upcoming fight between Barao and McDonald is imminent.
McDonald (15-1) is currently riding an eight-fight win streak. "Mayday" is undefeated in the Octagon (4-0) and is coming off a first round shellacking of former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) bantamweight champion, Miguel Torres.
Not too shabby for a 21-year-old.
Barao, meanwhile, earned the interim strap with a convincing unanimous decision win over Urijah Faber in the UFC 149 main event this summer. It was an event that White said "sucked" and branded and "embarrassment," but there is nothing sucky or embarrassing about Barao's recent run or his looming showdown with McDonald.
It's a very good fight.