LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 18: (L-R) Coach Urijah Faber faces off with new opponent Renan Barao after the announcement of their Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship bout during season fifteen of The Ultimate Fighter at the UFC Training Center on May 18, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. photo via-Getty Images
Urijah Faber will get another crack at obtaining Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gold when he takes on 28-1 Renan Barao at UFC 149 on July 21, 2012 from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the promotions interim-Bantamweight title
Originally, "The California Kid" was ready to potentially end the feud between he and bitter rival Dominick Cruz, who just so happens to be the UFC's current 135-pound champ, at UFC 148 this past weekend (July 7, 2012.) However, an unfortunate injury to "The Dominator" axed all plans of the trilogy fight and sent Cruz to the sidelines in order to fully recover and the promotion was forced to find a legitimate replacement.
Winner of 28 straight fights (3-0 UFC) with one no-contest sandwiched in between, Barao is currently enjoying perhaps the longest win streak in mixed martial arts (MMA.) With his quick speed and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt credentials, the young fighter is a tough draw for any contender.
Faber, for one, appreciates his opponent's skill set, but he does say that once the two step inside the Octagon, the difference in experience and skill will be evident right away:
"Barão has a good record and is obviously very talented, but I've been fighting at a different level. He's got this great record, but I've fought better guys and beaten better guys than he has. A lot of people seem intimidated by this guy, but I'm not. He's got skills and he loves to brawl, but none of that worries me. I'm dragging him into deep water. Like I've said, I'm the best he's ever fought but he's not the best I've fought and I will prove that to him in the first round of the fight. One round in, he will realize the difference between me and the rest of the guys he's fought."
Cruz and Faber have been engaged in a heated rivalry dating all the way back to their time spent competing in the now defunct World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) organization. With their series even at one apiece, their trilogy fight will have to wait for another day. Their disdain for one another is no secret and their beef is indeed very personal. Faber, however, says though he does not know Renan personally, the fight is personal in the sense that he is standing in the way of achieving his goal of obtaining a UFC world title:
"This is personal, too. I don't know Barão, I know nothing about him personally and I don't dislike him as a person, like I do Dominick Cruz, but every fight is personal to me. Barão is trying to harm me, to mess me up and take away my dream of being the UFC world champion. What's more personal than that?"
Though Renan doesn't exactly have the mass appeal and star power that Dominick enjoys, the skill set the young Brazilian possesses is on par with any top contender in the bantamweight division and will prove to be a tough obstacle for Faber in his quest for UFC gold.
Will Barao have his coming out party in Canada by shocking one of the most recognizable and talented names in the sport today as he looks to make a name for himself?
Or will "The California Kid" prove to be too much for the young Brazilian and secure his trilogy bout with Cruz in the process?