Barao vs. McDonald: Renan Barao's Win Sets Up Battle with Dominick Cruz

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2013

Jul 21, 2012; Calgary, AB, CANADA; Renan Barao celebrates defeating Urijah Faber (not pictured) in the interim bantamweight title bout of UFC 149 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

When Renan Barao defended his interim bantamweight title Saturday night at UFC on Fuel TV 7 in London’s Wembley Arena against up-and-coming star Michael McDonald, the Brazilian brawler proved he was one of the sport’s pound-for-pound toughest fighters.

Barao also proved he is ready to take the next step toward the upper echelon of MMA fighters by letting current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz know that he was ready for a fight whenever he gets back.

Via a translator, Barao spoke to A.J Perez of FOXSports, “Dominick Cruz, I’m waiting for you. Please come (back) quick.”

This is clearly the interim champion calling out Cruz—the reigning champ has missed over a year of action with two separate knee surgeries to replace a torn ACL (h/t MMAJunkie)—and this is a major step for Barao.

There's no coming back from calling out a star like Cruz.

There is no doubt that the duo will face off when Cruz is healthy enough to unify the titles, but the reigning champion had some words of his own for the interim title holder on the Fuel post-fight show (h/t FOXSports).

Enjoy the back-to-back titles. The truth is that I’m the champ and I can’t wait to get in and fight the guy. I’m excited, man. He’s so good. He brings so many different tools. It’s a different challenge than I’ve ever faced. I’m coming back from these injuries and it makes it an even tougher task.

Cruz is a humble fighter who has never shied away from giving credit to his opponents, but Barao should not take these most recent comments as any sort of fear.

The defending bantamweight champion is one of the most dangerous men in the UFC, and as long as he is at 100 percent in the Octagon, he will be hard to beat.

If there is a shred of weakness in Cruz’s knee when he fights next, though, Barao is the kind of fighter that will make him pay by attacking the limb relentlessly.

The MMA world can’t wait to see Cruz square off against Barao.