As the return date for UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz got pushed back further and further, interim champ Renan Barao's willingness to wait for a title unification fight has wavered and wavered.
In an interview with MMA Junkie, Barao stated he is open to a fight with high-ranking bantamweight Michael McDonald. “My goal was to fight [Cruz] because I wanted to unify the belts, but unfortunately he isn't in any condition for that...I already had it in my mind that I could fight McDonald,” said Barao through a translator. “He's coming off of good wins and good knockouts. It makes sense.”
Barao beat former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber to become the interim bantamweight champion at UFC 149. The interim championship came about when Dominick Cruz injured his knee preparing for a fight with Faber.
Cruz was initially penciled in to return in early 2013, but has recently suffered complications recovering from a torn ACL that required a second surgery. This could keep Cruz sidelined for another twelve months, and as such, Barao is looking for another opponent.
Michael McDonald is widely regarded as the third-best bantamweight in MMA, behind only Cruz and Barao. McDonald has a 15-1 record in MMA, and is 5-0 in the WEC and UFC. His most recent win came via a first-round knockout over former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres.
Neither Barao nor McDonald have anything scheduled, making this fight very possible. Both fighters are young (Barao is 25, McDonald is 21) and extremely talented, which could make for a great fight in early 2013.