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Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao: 5 Fights for Barao to Take Next

Jordy McElroyCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2012

Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao: 5 Fights for Barao to Take Next

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    With Renan Barao as the new UFC interim champ, things just got a bit more confusing in the bantamweight division.

    The 25-year-old Brazilian tasted UFC gold for the first time on Saturday night at UFC 149, where he routed former WEC champion Urijah Faber in a five-round decision.

    What's next for Barao?

    The UFC hopes to put him against bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz to decide an undisputed champion.

    Unfortunately, Cruz is recovering from a torn ACL, which could keep him out of action for well over a year.

    With Cruz sidelined and Faber coming off a loss, there really isn't a clear cut contender set to challenge Barao. A major opportunity is ripe for the taking.

    Who will be branded as the next No. 1 contender?

    Here are five opponents Barao could face next.

Eddie Wineland

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    With his back against the wall, Eddie Wineland saved his UFC career with a shocking knockout win over former title contender Scott Jorgensen.

    Wineland is a gifted boxer who also demonstrates great ground skills. He was also the first ever WEC bantamweight champion.

    A Wineland vs. Barao fight would be a welcomed addition to a major UFC fight card.

Michael McDonald

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    Michael McDonald made headlines in April with his vicious knockout victory over former WEC champ Miguel Torres.

    Out of all the fighters on this list, McDonald may be the most plausible as Barao's next opponent.

    He is an exceptional young talent with tremendous upside. His exciting fighting style also helps.

    In 15 wins, McDonald has racked up nine knockouts.

Mike Easton

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    Along with Michael McDonald, Mike Easton is in the best position to challenge for the UFC title.

    "The Hulk" crept into the contender conversation after his decision victory over Ivan Menjivar at UFC 148.

    Is a win over Menjivar really enough to contend for a world title?

    It may have to be.

Ivan Menjivar

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    Despite coming off a loss to Mike Easton, there is always the possibility Ivan Menjivar creeps back into the title picture.

    The UFC has been plagued with injuries, and a Menjivar vs. Barao fight is very intriguing.

    Along with UFC champ Dominick Cruz, Menjivar and Barao are two of the most unorthodox strikers in the entire bantamweight division.

Dominick Cruz

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    A bout between Dominick Cruz and Barao is a dream fight.

    Barao could take a vacation and wait for an undisputed title bout, but as reported by Ariel Helwani (via MMA Mania), Cruz could be out of action for up to 18 months.

    It's highly unlikely Barao remains inactive for an extended period of time.

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