That seemed to be the biggest question of Renan Barao before UFC 149, but now that he’s captured the UFC interim bantamweight title it’s an even more relevant inquiry.
Prior to Saturday night, Barao seemed somewhat up in the air regarding the idea of sitting and waiting for champion Dominick Cruz to return from knee surgery, or opting to take another fight to defend his newly won interim belt.
Cruz is expected to be out until at least May or June 2013 after tearing the ACL in his knee while training for his rematch with Urijah Faber, which was originally scheduled for UFC 148 just a few weeks ago.
“I’m a player of the UFC, I fight whenever I’m asked to,” Barao answered when asked about waiting for Cruz or taking another fight.
Logic would say because of the timeline for Cruz’s return to action that Barao would almost definitely take another fight in the interim.
There are a few contenders waiting in the wings, but maybe none more deserving that young phenom Michael McDonald, who was also in the running to get the title shot after Cruz fell out due to injury.
Ultimately, McDonald was taken out of the running due to a lingering injury he was dealing with after his devastating knockout win over former WEC champion Miguel Torres back in April.
Barao remains resigned to the fact that he is a UFC employee and if the bosses tell him to take another fight, he’ll take another fight.
If they tell him to face Michael McDonald, then that’s who Barao will face. He’s just happy to call himself champion and be a good company man.
“It’s not up to me to decide who to fight with, it’s up to the UFC. I’ll fight anyone, I’m an employee of the UFC, I’m going to be ready for anyone,” said Barao.
That could be good news for the upcoming UFC fight schedule as cards continue to grow, but title options remain limited with champions like Cruz currently on the shelf. It would seem likely Barao will get to defend his newly won interim belt at least one time before Cruz finally returns in mid-2013.