He may not be the most popular and he may not be the biggest name in terms of UFC champions, but Renan Barao has proven that he is one of the best fighters in MMA.
Quietly, the Brazilian has put together an undefeated streak that spans over 30 fights and eight years. Eight of those wins have come under the Zuffa umbrella.
Pre-Zuffa, Barao was just another Brazilian looking to get his name on the map after a long-span in his native land. There were many before him with similar credentials that did not work out as well as the current UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Then he came to the mainstream with little more than a name and a game plan. He went 2-0 in the WEC against Anthony Leone and Chris Cariaso before making the move over to the UFC with the rest of the roster.
That has led to a 6-0 run in the UFC, with wins over five top-10 opponents in Scott Jorgensen, Brad Pickett, Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland.
The dude is a finisher, too. Of his eight Zuffa wins, five have been finishes. He armbarred Leone, choked out Cariaso, Pickett and McDonald, as well as knocked out Wineland.
He is extremely well-rounded and powerful, especially for a 135er. The Nova Uniao product is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with 14 submission wins. However, his striking is also top notch, as he utilizes kicks well and throws bombs for a small man.
His most recent defense against Wineland showed a whole new threat that people will have to prepare for. The spinning back kick he cracked the American in the head with was vicious, beautiful and effective.
In reality, Barao should be the undisputed UFC champion, as Dominick Cruz hasn't fought in nearly two years and Barao has defended his title twice since winning it. That's not something an "interim" champion is supposed to do.
So while Jon Jones and Georges St. Pierre get all the press and buzz, Barao is content with being the best fighter you rarely hear about. If he continues to fight the way he has been as of late, he could go down as one of the all-time greats.
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