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Renan Barao jumps to featherweight, fights Jeremy Stephens on May 29 in Las Vegas

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Esther Lin

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight champion Renan Barao is putting an end to his drastic weight cuts -- which at one point led to this -- for a shot at featherweight superstardom.

That starts with a fight against veteran face puncher Jeremy Stephens at the upcoming UFC Fight Night 88 mixed martial arts (MMA) event on May 29 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Barao (33-3, 1 NC), once considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, hasn't competed since TJ Dillashaw turned him inside out at UFC on FOX 15. It was the second time in the span of 14 months the Brazilian was bit by "The Viper," which likely prompted his 135-pound departure.

But the competition won't be any easier up north.

Stephens (24-12) has been hot-and-cold since moving down from lightweight. He smashed Dennis Bermudez at UFC 189 last July, but was unable to keep that momentum against Max Holloway just a few months later, dropping a three-round unanimous decision.

No other bouts have been announced for UFC Fight Night 88; however, reports indicate "Barao vs. Stephens" will serve as the FOX Sports 1 co-main event.