Renan Barao’s 2014 campaign started out well, as they had for oh, nearly nine years, but since then the former UFC bantamweight champ has had a tough go of it.
After Barao stopped Urijah Faber in February, he was decisively beaten by the latter’s teammate TJ Dillashaw in May, and fell ill while making weight for a rematch in August. Not only that, but the UFC didn’t exactly give Barao a pass on went down either, and the Nova Uniao fighter took a ton of heat.
Thus, this is why, Barao is so eager to get back on track tonight at UFC Fight Night 58, when he battles Mitch Gagnon. While speaking to UFC.com recently, the 27 year-old relayed:
“As soon as they offered me the fight I accepted it right away because it’s really important for me to end the year with a victory,” Barao said.
When the bout was announced a little while back, it caught more than a few people by surprise. Considering Barao had been booked for a rematch with Dillashaw, the expectation was that the former champ would be tapped to fight a top contender next. Instead, Barao was signed to fight Gagnon, who is currently ranked #14. Barao remains the #1 contender.
Anyone who has followed Gagnon recently, however, knows that the Canadian has looked impressive in his last four outings. When asked about his opponent, Barao stated:
“He’s not a famous fighter and I didn’t really know him before, but he’s a tough guy, and he has many strengths in his game, so I need to be ready for Saturday.”
Yes, one does not need to be famous in order to be dangerous. Gagnon has scored submission wins now in 11 of his 12 pro wins.
So, it will be interesting to see what goes down tonight at UFC FN 58. If Barao wins, then the title shot picture at 135 will remain pretty cluttered, as Dominick Cruz and Raphael Assuncao are right there. If Gagnon wins, then 135 will have a new contender in the mix.
UFC FN 58 will feature a middleweight fight between Lyoto Machida and CB Dollaway and will take place in Barueri, Brazil.