Renan Barao May Be the Last UFC Bantamweight Contender Standing

December 23, 2014
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Renan Barao wants his belt back. And after Monday’s bantamweight fallout, he may just be the next guy to get a crack at the belt currently wrapped around TJ Dillashaw’s waist.

Former champion Dominick Cruz, who was stripped of his belt during a nearly three-year absence due to injury, was next in line for a shot at Dillashaw. He returned from his previous injury stretch at UFC 178 in September by knocking out Takeya Mizugaki and earning a shot at getting the belt back.

Cruz’s hopes were dashed on Monday when he revealed via Facebook that he had suffered another anterior cruciate ligament injury, this time to his right knee. The ACL injury that kicked off his original absence was to his left knee.

Raphael Assuncao was immediately on Cruz’s heels, riding a seven-fight winning streak, and looking to be the next likely contender. But within minutes of Cruz announcing his injury, Assuncao dropped a bomb of his own, letting everyone know that he had broken his ankle in training, taking a spot next to Cruz on the bench.

SEE ALSO: UFC Bantamweight Contenders Ravaged by Injury

Renan Barao_0213-750Barao is the man that Dillashaw defeated to get the belt. They were already supposed to have rematched at UFC 177, but Barao had to withdraw from the fight on the day of weigh-ins, leaving Dillashaw to instead defend against last-minute replacement Joe Soto.

Urijah Faber is a perennial contender on a two-fight winning streak, but he is a teammate of Dillashaw’s, plus Barao has a win over Faber and just defeated Mitch Gagnon at UFC Fight Night 58 on Saturday night. It would seem much more likely that the UFC would turn to the Brazilian for Dillashaw’s next defense than a teammate who has publicly stated his reluctance to fight his friend.

SEE ALSO: Renan Barao vs. Mitch Gagnon Fight Highlights Video

Aside from being the last man standing, Barao is also ready, willing and able.

“I have one thing to say: I want my belt back,” Barao said after submitting Gagnon. “Dillashaw, I have two gifts for you, my left hand and my right hand. I’m going to shut up your mouth.”

There had not yet been a timetable announced for Dillashaw to defend against Cruz, and, as of late Monday night, UFC officials had yet to address the bantamweight title situation, but Barao stands at the ready.

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  • Seth

    As long as UFC has anyone in that division, Barao isn’t the only one to get a title shot. We already saw that UFC is willing to give title shots to people who doesn’t deserve them, so hard to say what will they do next…though that rematch looks like the best option now. Let TJ murder him again and send him down again.

    • shakejunt

      on a day’s notice though. they aren’t gonna book another unranked opponent with time to spare.

      • Seth

        Well, Sonnen got his without being ranked and that was quite a notice…

        UFC will make a fight that will sale, not make sense, so injuries doesn’t affect them THAT much really. Of course, it sucks to lose top guys – especially when fight would sell. Cruz’s injury hurts them big time. Assuncao? Not so much.

        • cheflacsto

          Not exactly correct. They make fights that will sell for sure, and Chael is a salesman. Usually the fights with top guys are the ones that sell. I like the idea the guy up top had about giving Mighty Mouse a shot. That fight would sell, be competitive and buy some time Let Renan fight once more and then fight the winner.

          • Seth

            That’s why I said – not always top guy = top contender. Not always, but often.

  • justin

    Just give DJ the shot. Let him be the first to hold and defend two belts at the same time.

    • cheflacsto

      I actually like this idea. I think it would be terrific and if Dillishaw wins DJ goes back down.

  • FabvsDill

    Fabre fought Jorgensen he could do Dillasha too!

  • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One

    Barao should get a shot, I guess. Rather see Urijah vs TJ tho

    • shakejunt

      faber is perennial #2, but he’s shouldn’t be getting a title shot off the eye poke.

  • Sarge

    history tells me barao vs dillashaw are destined to rematch.

  • Guest

    whatever happened to Michael McDonald? I would love to see that kid fight his way back up to another title shot.