Renan "Barão" (pictured above, 32-1, 1 NC) has been on an absolute tear for the last 9 years. His name may mean nothing to many fans of the UFC but to fighters, promoters, coaches, and MMA journalists everywhere his name carries a lot of weight.
For those of you who don't know him, a quick few things you need to know about Renan "Barão."
- Renan is a Brazilian Mixed Martial artist.
- He trains in the same camp as current UFC Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo, who is actually Barao's training partner.
- Renan hasn't lost a fight since his debut in April of 2005.
- He is a blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with striking comparable to his mentor's (Aldo).
Now that you're basically up to speed. Barao is set to face Team Alpha Male's TJ Dillashaw (9-2) at UFC 173 May 24th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dillashaw is coming into the title shot after Barao's speculated next opponent Raphael Assuncao (22-4) had to pull out of a fight with Barao due to an injury.
What does this mean for Barao who was originally scheduled to face a fighter on a 6 fight win streak and is now facing the fighter who lost to Assuncao (via Split Decision)?
Basically Barao is going to be underrated for a long time if this keeps up. The UFC has found it hard enough to market Barao seeing as he prefers to do his talking inside the cage rather than out of it. Even if Barao destroys Dillashaw in under a minute odds are fans will cry that he beat someone who had no business facing him to being with.
This is the sad state that MMA is in. Barao is fighting whenever asked to, and he's fighting whoever he's asked to and he's still chastised by fans because they view his weight class as "weak" instead of viewing him as an exceptional talent (which I certainly believe he is).
Where's the silver lining?
Well many fans claim that Barao's success comes from his size, which he does cut a considerable amount of weight to make 135 lbs but so do some other fighters at Bantamweight and they are not nearly as successful as he has been. Barao has been known to have the same walking around weight as his training partner Jose Aldo (around 165 lbs). The two of them have discussed moving up in weight, seeing as they also join the list of "fighting friends" who refuse to face off against one another.
If Barao keeps the pace he's at, he could very well make a jump to 145 with a huge steam of momentum behind him, assuming Aldo also makes the jump to 155.
In the end I suppose either fans will jump on the bandwagon for the "Baron" or he'll continue to fly under their radar and go unnoticed despite being one of the UFC's best talents to enter the Octagon in many years.
Time will tell fight fans, time will tell.