Newly named UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao faces Urijah Faber on Feb. 1, and if he can finish the former featherweight titleholder UFC president Dana White believes he’ll have proven that he’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
“If Barao goes out and stops Faber, he’s probably the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world,” said White following UFC Fight Night 35 in Duluth, Ga., on Wednesday.
Currently, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (19-1) sits atop the pound-for-pound rankings. Barao (31-1, 1NC) is riding a 30-fight winning streak and hasn’t lost since his professional fighting debut in April 2005.
The upcoming bout with Faber is a rematch. Barao won the interim bantamweight title at UFC 149 in July 2012 by defeating Faber. He’s defended the belt twice.
He was originally scheduled to face former champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 169, but Cruz was forced out of the fight due to a groin injury. Cruz has been plagued with a nagging knee injury that’s required two surgeries to repair. He hasn’t fought since October 2011. When he withdrew from the Barao fight, he relinquished his bantamweight title. It was transferred to Barao.
Barao is currently ranked sixth in the UFC pound-for-pound rankings.