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Barao feels he beat Stephens, will remain at 145

Renan Barao feels better in the featherweight division and believes he did enough to beat Jeremy Stephens at UFC Fight Night 88.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Barao vs Stephens
Renan Barao and Jeremy Stephens
Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Former bantamweight champion Renan Barao was pleased with his first featherweight bout in the UFC, even though it came with a loss to Jeremy Stephens. As Barao told Combate, the new weight cut is a relief, compared to when he needed to cut to 135 pounds.

“I hope to continue at featherweight,” Barao said. “I feel good. Every time they booked my fights I would worry about this weight issue. I didn’t even think of the fight that much. I can think about fighting more, I can study the fight better. It was a good choice. It was too much of a struggle to cut weight and I wasn’t recovering properly. That really got in the way when I was fighting.”

All problems aside, Barao feels he had a great debut at featherweight. As far as feeling like he did enough to get the nod in the decision he lost to Stephens.

“I felt good,” Barao said. “Jeremy has good punches. He’s strong and knocked out a lot of guys before. I fought at 145 before and I always fought guys who are heavier than me, so that was no problem. Actually, I think I won the fight. I think I won the first, lost the second for taking some shots and then the third was really close, but I managed to take him down. It wasn’t a great takedown, but I got him down and I held him against the cage. Next time I won’t leave it in the hands of the judges.”

Barao lost to Stephens by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 88, on May 29, in Las Vegas. Before the bout, he already had a 4th round TKO loss to then bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. His last win came in December 2014, against Mitch Gagnon.