Though UFC 138 may not be a particularly strong event, one of the underappreciated reasons MMA fans should tune in on Saturday night has to do with 24-year old Brazilian bantamweight Renan Barao. Barao, who hasn’t lost since his MMA debut in 2005 while picking up twenty-six straight wins, faces 20-5 Brad Pickett in co-headlining action on the U.K. card with Chris Leben and Mark Munoz mixing it up in the evening’s main event.
The bout will mark an important moment for Barao, not only on a personal level but where his divisional home is concerned. The submission specialist, recently awarded his BJJ blackbelt, spoke about this weekend’s match-up in a conversation with the UFC’s website, explaining some of his motivation for winning has nothing to do with his own personal interests.
“My goal now is to bring the respect to the 135-pound division,” Barao revealed. “Of course the fans still prefer the heavier divisions, but bantamweight has more speed, more technique, and don’t get me wrong, the heavy guys do it too, but 135 combines some aspects that are nearly impossible for the higher weight categories.”
“I do understand that the division is still new if you compare it to the other five UFC has (not counting featherweight),” he continued. “But I think more fighters will appear – guys who are in small organizations now – and while the weight classes is packed with talent now, within one or two years this will be the most prestigious here.”
Barao was part of the WEC group crossing over to UFC earlier this year and is currently 3-0 under the Zuffa banner. While his initial visit to the Octagon, a convincing decision win over Cole Escovedo in May, was an eye-opening experience for the youngster he feels this time around he’ll be better prepared to handle any unwanted adrenaline.
“I can’t deny that I got a bit nervous in my first UFC fight, but I was well-trained and I listened to my corner, so I could handle the adrenaline and let my game flow,” Barao said before citing a recent example of keeping his cool in check. “Pickett posted on his Twitter account that it’s time to see if I’m for real, and he wanted to provoke me. But I read it, stayed calm and focused, and I’m ready to show what I trained and to unfold the strategy we worked on.”
Fans can see whether or not Barao will live up to his promise by keeping his incredible winning streak going or the hometown favorite, Pickett, can put an end to for free on Spike TV starting at 8:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC