UFC Champion Renan Barao Injured and out of UFC 161 Main Event
UFC 161 is currently without a main event after interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao suffered a foot injury in training that will force him out of his scheduled bout against top contender Eddie Wineland.
The news of Barao's injury first surfaced on Saturday during UFC on FX 8, which took place in the champion's native country of Brazil.
At the time, UFC officials were hesitant to count Barao out of the fight just yet until he had a chance to visit with doctors on Monday.
As of Tuesday, however, UFC representatives confirmed with Bleacher Report that Barao is officially out of UFC 161. UFC President Dana White initially confirmed the news with MMAJunkie.com, stating that Barao's injuries were severe enough that he would be unable to fight Wineland on June 15.
According to White, Barao suffered torn ligaments in his foot and had to be pulled from the show due to the injuries.
It leaves the UFC with a tough spot to fill seeing as the UFC 161 card is less than a month away now, and options would seem few and far between to replace the entire main event.
Two featured light heavyweight bouts are on the card already with former champion Rashad Evans taking on Dan Henderson, while Mauricio "Shogun" Rua faces Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a rematch of an epic battle the two Brazilians had while competing under the Pride banner.
As of Tuesday, White was unable to confirm if the UFC had an alternate plan in place for a new headliner for UFC 161 or if the current card would move forward with either of the light heavyweight fights moving up to take the main event spot.
Barao's injury also muddies up the UFC bantamweight division even more because while he is serving as the interim title holder, 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz remains on the mend following back-to-back knee surgeries that have kept him out of action for more than a year.
It's unclear when Barao will be able to return to action, and Cruz's timeline has not been determined either until he gets doctor's clearance to get back into full training following the two difficult surgeries.
Meanwhile, it leaves top contender Eddie Wineland in a difficult position as the top contender with no fight as of now. If Barao's injuries are not too severe he could potentially return and face Wineland later this year, which would also give Cruz more time to heal up before unifying the titles when he gets back in the cage.
Either way, right now, UFC 161 stands without a defined main event with Barao out due to injury and no word on a fight that could fill the space instead.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
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