Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao will look to regain momentum tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 24, 2018) at UFC on FOX 28 from inside Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., when he takes on rising contender Brian Kelleher in the preliminary headliner on FOX.
Barao, 30, just hasn’t been the same since losing his 135-pound crown to T.J. Dillashaw back in 2014. Since that title loss, which ended a 33-fight unbeaten streak, the Brazilian has turned in a pedestrian 2-3 record. That includes a rematch against Dillashaw and an unsuccessful shot in the UFC’s featherweight division.
Despite his struggle to find consistency over the past couple of years, Barao is still a relevant player at 135 pounds. And if his recent move from Nova Uniao in Brazil to American Top Team (ATT) in Florida is any indication of what “Baron” is capable of moving forward, the bantamweight elites better pay close attention.
“I got the best preparation possible,” Barao said about his move to ATT in a recent interview with Combate. “I already wanted to move to the United States. I want to bring my son over here, in the future. I chose ATT so I could change my way of training, look for improvements. Since I already had some friends of mine training over there, telling me how different everything was, that’s what me decide. Everything changed. I’m doing my cardio with one coach, boxing with another, wrestling with another. I think I improved quite a lot.”
While Barao hasn’t been finished since his defeats to Dillashaw, he has dropped disappointing decisions to featherweight staple Jeremy Stephens and bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling. Needless to say, the former UFC champion desperately needs a big win this weekend if he wishes to turn back the clock and make 2018 his comeback campaign.
Unfortunately for Kelleher, any success Barao has this weekend in Orlando will come at the expense of him. “Boom” is a finishing machine and has won two Fight Night bonuses in just three Octagon appearances to date, but it is Barao who is looking to walk away from UFC on FOX 28 with a knockout.
“He’s a tough guy, coming off a win, but I expect a nice KO,” Barao said. “I’m ready to give my best.”
UFC on FOX 28 will be headlined by a featherweight tilt pitting veteran Jeremy Stephens against rising contender Josh Emmett.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 28 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.