It's an opportunity fans have wanted for Barao (28-1-1, 3-0 UFC) for quite some time now, given that he hasn't lost in the Octagon yet and currently rides a 28-fight unbeaten streak. I'm no Stephen Quadros, but 28 feels like a high number. I'm not sure I could fight 28 chihuahuas and emerge with a spotless record.
The man is an absolute killer in the cage. I mean that figuratively. But he figuratively murders and dismembers people with that special blend of jiu-jitsu poured over Muay Thai that has made champions out of training partners like Jose Aldo.
And yet, not a lot of people have heard of Barao outside the hardcore set, at least when compared with The Ultimate Fighter coaches and beverage/shaving cream spokesmen Faber and Dominick Cruz, the injured bantamweight belt holder.
If you've never heard of him before, here are the five dates that changed the course of Barao's career and got him where he is today. Hardcore fans will probably learn something, too.
Renan Barao's 14th birthday. It was during this year that he began training in MMA, joining a little camp in Brazil called Nova Uniao.
That's right. He didn't pick it up when it started becoming trendy. He's been training there since he was 14 and sleeping on pieces of wood with Rony Markes. He and Markes are like the hipsters of Nova Uniao.
Barao is dedicated, and he's a lifer. According to his UFC bio, he's never held a job other than training and fighting.
The day of his very first professional fight—a decision loss to the immortal Joao Paulo Rodrigues de Souza (pictured...isn't he glorious?)—didn't go so well. Nevertheless, Barao must have taken something good out of the experience, seeing as how he hasn't lost a fight since.
A date in May six months prior marked Barao's arrival in the UFC. This one marked his arrival as a star.
Barao's vicious kicks and knees were the difference in a Fight of the Night-winning slugfest over Brad Pickett. Pickett ended up succumbing to a rear-naked choke late in the first round.
Barao's next fight was with top contender Scott Jorgensen. He won that one, too. And here we are.
Finally the live format of The Ultimate Fighter pays off!
Not two weeks after Dominick Cruz announced he would pull out of his UFC 148 title fight with Faber because of a torn ACL, Barao was in. He was introduced as the replacement (and to plenty of casual fans) when, following a "surprise announcement" on the show from UFC President Dana White, he sauntered onto the TUF set to square off with Faber.
First UFC main event. First UFC title fight. The young man very few people had heard of just six months ago is ready for his closeup. This will be the biggest day of his career. And it's not particularly close.
Scott Harris is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He also has a brand-new Twitter feed, which so far has proven mildly entertaining for all involved. Follow along @ScottHarrisMMA.