Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE
Leading into this fight, some of the questions about Renan Barao were similar to the questions about Hector Lombard. He had a ton of wins, but he was up against unheralded opposition.
Well, the answers couldn't have been any more different.
Unlike Lombard, Barao proved he could not only hang with top competition, but dominate in the process.
He couldn't finish Faber, but neither could Jose Aldo. Barao did win a clear-cut decision against a top-three bantamweight, though, and that means something. That means he earned his interim belt and the right to face Dominick Cruz at a later date.
However, the problem is that Cruz may be out for a while. So, the question is: Should Barao sit around and wait, or should he fight again?
There's an argument to be made about waiting. It's the same argument Carlos Condit is using to wait for GSP. But it's flawed, and it puts way too much stock into what an interim title actually is.
The interim title is just that, interim. It's not a real belt, nor does it guarantee a shot at the real champion. It was simply created in the interim to keep the division running smoothly while the champion recovers.
The problem with an interim belts is that it's seen as the opposite, as an actual title—to be "unified" with the real title at some point. That is what diminishes the very idea of the interim title.
There is no unification. This isn't like when the UFC purchased PRIDE and held fights to unify the titles at 185 and 205. Those were actual title unification fights.
This "belt" exists solely because the real champion, Dominick Cruz, got hurt. That is all.
Renan Barao, as well as any interim champion, needs to defend his belt as if it were the real thing, and that means taking on any and all legitimate challengers until the real champion returns.
By dominating Urijah Faber, Barao proved what most of us already knew: He's top of the food chain. But he's not the champion, regardless of what that worthless piece of gold around his waist says.
Dominick Cruz is, and Barao has no right to hold up the division any more than it already is with delusions of championship entitlement.