Elite Brazilian prospect Renan Barao was expected to face his toughest career test last night (February 4, 2012) when he stepped into the Octagon on the UFC 143 main card against former WEC bantamweight title challenger Scott Jorgensen.
Let's just say he passed with flying colors.
Jorgensen presented some of the heaviest hands and best wrestling the Nova Uniao fighter had faced thus far in his career, but that didn't stop Barao from sweeping the judges' scorecards and impressing the masses with his versatility.
So how was the Brazilian able to thwart "Young Guns" at every step? And where do both bantamweights go from here?
Follow me after the jump for our Renan Barao vs. Scott Jorgensen UFC 143 post-fight review and analysis:
We learned just about everything we needed to in just the first minute of the fight. While both fighters were bouncing around, Barao snapped off a beautiful head kick that was so quick, Jorgensen didn't even have time to move his hands and block it, having to absorb the impact.
Barao also dodged a takedown attempt from "Young Guns," launched a spinning back kick, an inside leg kick, an outside leg kick, snapped Jorgensen's head back with a beautiful left jab and connected solidly with another spinning back kick to the chest before stuffing yet another takedown atttempt.
Reminder, this was all inside the first minute. The only thing Jorgensen landed was one measly leg kick in this time period, and it didn't have nearly the zip on it that Barao's had.
The rest of the fight was more of the same, as Barao got the better of nearly every striking exchange and stuffed all seven of Jorgensen's takedown attempts. One of the most telling moments of the bout was in the second round when Jorgensen actually pulled guard after failing to secure yet another takedown.
In the striking exchanges, Jorgensen came up short repeatedly, and even when he did land, it didn't seem to bother the Brazilian one bit. Barao, on the other hand, found a home for the right cross time and time again at the end of his 1-2 combinations lunging forward and his kicks were constantly forcing "Young Guns" to be reactionary.
In the end, it was a combination of aggressive striking and incredibly takedown defense which easily allowed the 24 year old Barao to claim 30-27 scores on all three judges' scorecards.
For Scott Jorgensen, this was a tough one to swallow, but he's going to have to accept that he's going to be one of the best UFC bantamweights to likely not receive a title shot. He's powerful, has great wrestling and is quite durable, but he's just a step too slow against the elite bantamweights in the world. He could not score a takedown all night and that's more of a testament to Barao's skills than Jorgensen's faults. He fought a decent fight, but he was simply outclassed in just about all areas.
For Renan Barao, his narrative as a potential title challenger continues to grow. There were questions about how he'd handle a top wrestler, and he stuffed every takedown. There were questions about whether he could take a punch and he absorbed a few big shots from Jorgensen without barely flinching. The only thing I'd say he should work on is improve that striking defense a little bit. His head movement wasn't that great and when Jorgensen did get inside, he was able to connect.
Despite just being 24 years old, this kid has tremendous talent and with the serious depth issues in the UFC bantamweight division, it's time to give him a shot. If he's willing to be put on ice, I say give Barao a title shot at the winner of Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber. If they want to keep him active, he should fight Miguel Torres if "Angel" gets past Michael McDonald. Another possibility would be Takaya Mizugaki if he were to defeat Chris Cariaso at the UFC Japan show. They are quickly running out of options for this tremendous talent.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Do you agree with Goldberg that Renan Barao is the future at 135 pounds? What would you do next with the young Brazilian on a 31 fight unbeaten streak?