Photo of Renan Barao via Heavy.com.
The UFC 143: "Diaz vs. Condit" main card taking place tonight (Sat., Feb. 4, 2012) from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, featured a bantamweight clash that may very well have determined the next contender to the 135-pound title.
That's because Renan Barao, who hasn't lost a fight since Vietnam (17 wins in a row), was taking on Scott Jorgensen, a former title contender well on his way to another crack at Dominick Cruz, the last man to defeat him.
In the end, it was Barao driving his unbelievable win streak up to 18 and earning himself a spot on the higher end of the ladder in the bantamweight division. In fact, considering how Cruz has "dominated" the weight class, it's not out of line to think the Brazilian is headed for a title shot.
After tonight, we know he deserves it.
Blink and you'll miss it action kicked off this bantamweight scrap, as Barao showed why he's won so many fights in a row with some seriously slick striking. His takedown defense was also on point, as he likely drilled it to death to prepare for Jorgensen, a strong wrestler whose best avenue to victory seemed to be takedown, top control, rinse and repeat.
Indeed, the Brazilian was working a jab not usually seen in MMA. He was also busting out plenty of sweet kicks, head leg and body.
It's no surprise, then, that Jorgensen was far more committed to the takedown in the second round, though it did little to help him earn one. Finally, he said "forget this" and pulled guard.
Do what 'ya gotta do, y'all.
Of course, Barao isn't just a solid striker who can finish a fight on his feet. He's also a dangerous mat player, capable of snatching an arm and taking it home with him. So they went to a stalemate until standing back up to effectively restart the fight with the added knowledge on both side.
For Barao, it was clear he was the better man. Jorgensen, on the other hand, knew he was behind and having trouble catching up so he got aggressive, pushing forward with punches and kicks in an attempt to even out the playing field.
His foe responded well, countering with push kicks to maintain distance and the jab to keep "Young Guns" honest.
Through two rounds, the Brazilian was cleaning up.
The third round was a repeat of the first two. Barao asserting himself as the clearly superior striker with a far more advanced game, which is saying something considering how successful Jorgensen has been in the bantamweight division.
By the time all was said and done, it was obvious that Barao is ready for the big time. But is he capable of dethroning Dominick Cruz?
That's now a legitimate question, Maniacs. Who wants to answer it?
Don't forget to check out our complete results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the main card action, which is currently rolling right along on pay-per-view. Click here for all the coverage you need of the UFC 143 event.