Renan Barao didn't have the best 2014, and he'll tell you as much. Barao entered the year on a long winning streak and was carrying around UFC gold, but a bad loss to T.J. Dillashaw and all of the issues that prevented the rematch have pushed him a couple of rungs down the ladder in the bantamweight division. Barao returns this weekend against Mitch Gagnon at UFC Fight Night 58, but in an interview with MMA Junkie, it's pretty clear that Dillashaw is still on his mind:
"My goal is to fight for the belt no matter who has it. But I do want to fight T.J. Dillashaw again, and I want to make that clear. I would face T.J. Dillashaw even for free if I had to."
"I hope he’s training because we’re going to fight each other soon," Barao said. "We’re going to meet again in the near future, and it’s going to be a brawl."
He then went onto talk about his year, and how he'll rebound:
"It was definitely not the best year. Unfortunately, life is not always the way we want it to be. We had a few setbacks, a few problems, and we’re getting back into it and looking at all those things that happened.
"I was very sad in the beginning, but as an athlete, you’ve got to take that and move it forward. Now my goal is to get back in there and win a fight and get back to the belt."
"I’m here to show everybody the results of my hard work and give everyone a good show," Barao said. "Renan Barao is coming back, stronger and tougher than ever."
It appears that Dillashaw will face off with former champion Dominick Cruz next, and Barao could possibly get the winner of that if he's impressive in the Gagnon fight. But even if Cruz comes out on top, it looks like we'll probably see Dillashaw-Barao 2 down the road at some point.