Due to the fact that Dominick Cruz hasn’t fought in approximately two years, some folks may have to remind themselves at times that he, and not Renan Barao, is the UFC bantamweight champ. Of course, part of the reason why is because Barao’s been ridiculously impressive during his run with the UFC, which has seen him win five straight bouts in the Octagon and lay claim to the interim belt.
So, as Barao prepares for his second title defence at UFC 165 versus Eddie Wineland, does the promotion’s #7 ranked pound-for-pound fighter see himself as a champion? While speaking on a conference call Tuesday to promote the September 21st card, Barao had this to say about his status (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“No disrespect to him, but from the moment I won this belt, and I have defended it once, I considered myself the champion” said Barao, who decisioned Urijah Faber last July to become interim champ, before tapping out Michael McDonald in February.
The good news is that Cruz is reportedly still on track for his return. UFC boss man Dana White said the champ met with him and Lorenzo Fertitta recently, and relayed Cruz is confident he’ll be ready to go in early 2014. If, however, Cruz suffers another setback, then White admitted they’re “going to have to make a decision.”
UFC 165 will be hosted by Toronto’s Air Canada Centre and the main card will be broadcast via pay-per-view.
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