Renan Barao will step into the Octagon tonight for the first time since his stoppage loss to TJ Dillashaw in May, and although he’ll be fighting Mitch Gagnon, the bantamweight champ is clearly his primary target.
Of course, Barao wants the opportunity to avenge his defeat, and reclaim the bantamweight title, but Dillashaw added fuel to the rivalry by saying he ducked out of their scheduled rematch in August. As you recall, Barao fell ill while cutting weight for UFC 177, and had to withdraw.
So, while speaking to MMA Fighting.com recently about tonight’s fight, and Dillashaw, Barao offered this response to the Team Alpha Male fighter:
“I never ran from anyone,” Barao said. “Unfortunately, everything happened the way it happened, but I hope he keeps that title until we meet each other, so I can beat him up and make him stop talking trash.”
Considering Barao had gone undefeated in 33 bouts prior to facing Dillashaw at UFC 173, and took many of the planet’s best 135érs along the way, it is hard to imagine him running from anyone no? Of course, Dillashaw is expected to fight Dominick Cruz next, so Barao could be waiting on the sidelines for a title shot, if he takes out Gagnon.
While most folks are predicting Barao to emerge victorious tonight in Barueri, Brazil, Gagnon didn’t crack the top 15 ranks by accident. The #14 ranked bantamweight has won four straight fights, and has scored three submission victories during that time. While discussing the Canadian and his ground skills, Barao furthered:
“I saw that he’s a jiu-jitsu guy, has a lot of submissions,” the former champ said. “I think he will try to grapple with me, but I’m a jiu-jitsu black belt and I train with the best in the world. If he wants to grapple with me, no problem at all.”
Yes, Barao is certainly no slouch on the ground, and in some ways, his stand-up skills have over shadowed his jiu-jitsu pedigree. It should be a fascinating fight, and if Gagnon wins, his contender stock will go way up.
UFC FN 58 will also feature a middleweight bout between Lyoto Machida and CB Dollaway in the main event. The card will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.