Renan Barão Puts Belt on the Line Against Eddie Wineland at UFC 161 in Winnipeg

March 6, 2013
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Renan Barao at UFC 138Just 24 hours after UFC officials confirmed several UFC 161 bouts for June 15 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, company president Dana White has confirmed that interim UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barão will put his belt on the line in the main event.

Still waiting for champion Dominick Cruz to return from injury, Barão will defend the interim strap for the second time when he faces Eddie Wineland, according to a tweet by ESPN reporter Bret Okamoto. UFC officials later confirmed the bout.

Barão’s coach and manager, Andre Pederneiras also confirmed the fight to, although he said that, “If Dominick (could) not come back this year, I don’t understand why he still (has) his belt. Renan deserves (the official title) more than him.”

Barão (30-1) won the interim championship with a five-round unanimous decision victory over Urijah Faber at UFC 149 last summer in Calgary, after it was determined that Cruz’s timeline for recovery was too uncertain to wait for his recovery.

Barão briefly held out hope that Cruz might return soon enough that the two could unify the belt in the early part of this year, but various setbacks have left Cruz sidelined with a still uncertain future.

Michael McDonald stepped into the title picture during that time, challenging Barão in the UFC on Fuel TV 8 main event. McDonald put up an amazing fight, but Barão ultimately won the war, submitting McDonald late in the fourth round.

Barão has not lost a fight since his first professional bout in 2005, and doesn’t intend to change that on June 15.

Wineland (20-8-1) had a four-fight winning streak derailed by back-to-back decision losses to Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez when he made the jump to the UFC, but has since bounced back.

He knocked Scott Jorgensen out at UFC on FX 3, and then followed that up with a split decision victory over Brad Pickett at UFC 155 to close out 2012.

Wineland mentioned after beating Pickett that he just wanted to fight whomever put him closer to the belt, but now finds himself fighting for the belt and couldn’t be happier.

“Thank you a million times over @danawhite @ufc @seanshelby for this opportunity! It’s my time now!!!” he tweeted.

Renan Barão and Eddie Wineland headline UFC 161 on June 15 in Winnipeg.

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  • PhranktheTank

    Awesome! Wineland has really put it together recently, this fight should be phenomenal

  • datdudechris…ONCEAGAIN!!!!!!

    Damn… When Is Cruz Coming Back??????!!!!!!! should be the heading for this article…

  • kbroesq

    Love this fight. Wineland has looked awesome lately.

  • Prince James

    At what point does the UFC strip the real belt from Cruz?

    • Truth

      supposed to be 1 calendar year from previous fight.

  • Lucas Freire

    Oh the irony. Now Barao will have the same number of defenses as interim,as the linear champ. lol

  • make Barao the champion….this is BS…and give Cruz the shot when he comes back, it is not fair he gets to hold the title of champion while being inactive for almost a year and a half

  • PhranktheTank

    If Cruz doesn’t at least have a timeline for his return before this fight happens, then the fight should be for the undisputed title with Cruz getting an immediate shot if/when he returns.

  • KyleZombie

    Barao’s manager is absolutely correct. Cruz has not fought in 15 months, with no timetable for his return. It’s time to strip him of the title and name Barao the true champion. When Cruz is healthy they can fight about it.

  • Supaman

    WIneland has improved but I don’t think he’s ready and doesn’t deserve the shot yet. UFC just didn’t want to put another rematch and this division is rather thin at the top.

    What the heck happened to Brian Bowles??? After losing to Urijah, he’s disappeared. He needs to come back as I’d still have him in top 5.