Renan Barao had 28 career victories before his UFC Bantamweight title victory over Urijah Faber at UFC 149, but this victory put him in new territory.
He's an excellent fighter who has ripped off 30 consecutive MMA victories, but until now, he's never held the sport's ultimate achievement.
Without a championship belt, a fighter's legacy is null and void. It's like an NFL quarterback with no Super Bowl rings. Fighters without the hardware just don't match up next to the competitors who have earned their climactic moment.
Barao's victory cemented his legacy. UFC fans would have shook their heads if he had lost. They would have turned to the friend sitting next to them and said "I knew he wasn't that good." Who is going to say that now?
No one I would presume.
Barao's first title victory over Faber gives him some clout. Faber is respected, and his 26 career victories give his reputation some validation. It also helps that he's held titles in multiple divisions during his fighting career.
It's not like Barao defeated a "nobody." Faber is definitely a "somebody." This victory officially enters him into the pool of today's top UFC fighters, and there's no longer any reason to discount his ability.
Based on ability alone, Barao is one of the best pure fighters around. He is powerful, agile and has the killer instinct necessary to finish a reeling opponent. Without a title, those are all forgettable traits. Countless fighters have come through UFC's ranks with the very same talents, and their title-less careers are now lost among the plethora of so-so fighters.
This victory separates Barao from that class. He's no longer just a fighter; he's a championship fighter. Victories are nice to have, but championship victories are what people remember.
Prior to his victory over Faber, Barao was just a fighter who wins a lot. Now he's the championship-winning fighter who took the long road to the top.