Renan Barao is not one to rest on his laurels.
Only moments after dispatching hard-punching challenger Michael McDonald in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 7, the interim bantamweight champion wished sidelined titlist Dominick Cruz a speedy return to the cage for a unification bout.
“I wish Dominick a quick recovery so that he can come and give a great fight to the public,” Barao (Pictured, file photo) told Fox Sports. “I will train very hard. I’m very much looking forward to this fight. I want to give a good show, and I’m going to beat him.”
While that fight is undoubtedly one that both fans and UFC brass would love to see, Cruz’s return does not appear to be a guarantee. “The Dominator” has not competed since October 2011, suffering a torn ACL last summer ahead of his rubber match with rival Urijah Faber. After going under the knife to repair the tear, the champion sustained another setback this past December when it was learned that his body had rejected a replacement cadaver tendon. Cruz underwent another surgery on his ACL, and his timetable for return is currently set between six and 12 months.
Regardless of whether Cruz makes it back to the Octagon for a showdown with Barao, few could argue against the Brazilian being worthy of such a challenge. Barao has not lost in nearly seven years, racking up five UFC wins to his credit thus far. On Saturday night, the Nova Uniao standout added to his enormous winning streak by taking out the heavy-handed McDonald at Wembley Arena in London, using his diverse striking skills to stifle the American’s formidable power-punching attack before snatching a fourth-round arm-triangle choke to retain his title.
“I feel great. I worked very hard for that with all of my teammates at Nova Uniao in Rio de Janeiro. That’s the result of long days of work,” said Barao. “I had to work on my counters. I knew he had a very hard right hand, so I followed the instructions from my corner, and it worked out fine.”
Though McDonald managed to sting Barao in the first round with a series of right hands and remained dangerous throughout the majority of the four-round affair, Barao declined to name “Mayday” his toughest opponent after their battle. While Barao complimented the young gun for his abilities, the interim champion remains fully focused on his next challenge.
“There is no doubt that he’s a very young, talented and tough guy, but all my fights were very tough in the past,” said Barao. “He’s just another opponent that I had to encounter. I believe my toughest fight is going to be the next one.”