Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.
Renan Barao walked into the Octagon at UFC 143 as the #7 ranked bantamweight in the world according to the USA TODAY/MMA Nation Consensus Rankings. He beat #5 Scott Jorgensen by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) last night and now he's very near the top of the division.
Barao is the highest ranked bantamweight who hasn't already lost to UFC 135 pound champion Dominick Cruz so he should be very close to a title shot. He'll have to wait for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter which features Cruz vs. rival coach Urijah Faber and the third installment of Cruz vs. Faber. So don't be surprised if Barao has to fight again before he gets his shot.
"I have worked very hard and this feels great. I was ready for this moment. The title is my goal. I train every day and I'm ready for it," Barao told a translator after the fight.
"Barao's a tough guy, he's a very well-rounded fighter. I had no sense of urgency and I felt too comfortable in there. It's a tough loss," said Jorgensen.
Barao passed a tough test against Jorgensen, a skilled wrestler who's been lurking around the top of the division for a while. Barao fought very much like his Nova Unaio teammate Jose Aldo last night. He won the striking portion of the bout handily, relying heavily on kicks and used incredible take down defense to keep the fight standing.
It wasn't a spectacular win, but Barao might have the ideal skill set to dethrone Cruz, should Faber not be able to do it in his second attempt.
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