UFC 173 Results: 5 Fights for Renan Barao to Take Next
Renan Barao may not have his UFC bantamweight title, but he does have a few avenues to go back to getting it.
The Nova Uniao product is still one of the best bantamweights on the planet and was likely just as shocked as everyone else by the effectiveness of TJ Dillashaw on Saturday night.
Dillashaw landed a huge right hand early and it was all him from that point on. Even though Barao was thoroughly dominated at UFC 173, I don't believe he needs a "let's go back to the drawing board" type of talk.
This was simply a case of Dillashaw being the better fighter at UFC 173. We could be seeing the beginning of a great rivalry if Barao can bounce back in his next fight and make his way back to a title shot.
This option seems like the least likely out of these scenarios, but perhaps the UFC feels that Renan Barao has done enough to warrant a title shot despite the one-sided loss.
It didn't stop the promotion from granting Anderson Silva an immediate rematch with Chris Weidman after his one-sided loss, and Barao was being billed as some indestructible force in the lead-up to UFC 173.
Barao struggled to find a rhythm at UFC 173 and couldn't sustain any offense against Dillashaw. It started early when Dillashaw landed the big overhand right, and while Barao survived, he did very little afterward.
The Brazilian was able to thwart Dillashaw's takedowns, but came up short in the striking game—which is quite ironic since Barao was the one saying Dillashaw thinks he's a striker, but isn't.
Everyone has a bad night at the office and, unfortunately for Barao, his came in front of a national audience to cost him his UFC belt.
Given Dillashaw's dominance, a rematch would be a hard sell for the UFC. However, considering the UFC has no problems with propping Barao up, I believe it wouldn't have an issue with putting Barao in another main event.
Loser of Erik Perez vs. Bryan Caraway
Erik Perez and Bryan Caraway are fighting each other next month, with the winner moving closer to a title shot and the loser being sent back to the land of the gatekeepers.
Even though either man is a serious step down in level of competition for Barao, the UFC could use this as a way to rebuild his image for MMA fans.
Prior to UFC 173, Barao was heralded as a "killer" or "monster." After being soundly beaten at UFC 173, Barao didn't look like he could kill a fly.
Facing a fighter of Perez or Caraway's level should in theory give Barao the opportunity to showcase his skills and remind everyone of why he's so highly regarded.
If Mike Easton can manage to defeat Yves Jabouin at UFC 174, he will be happy to still be employed by the UFC. Unfortunately, he may not get to enjoy it for very long, as he could then be matched up with Barao.
Easton is on a three-fight losing streak, but is somehow still ranked inside the top 10 in the bantamweight division. A win over Jabouin would likely mean he'd hold on to that top-10 ranking, so matching him up with Barao makes sense.
Barao really needs another top-10 opponent in his next outing and Easton is both ranked in the top 10 and a very winnable fight.
Easton has a solid grappling background from his time with the controversial Lloyd Irvin, but has struggled mightily since moving up the ranks. Barao would enjoy an advantage no matter where the fight took place—something that would likely become very evident in the early stages of the fight.
Takeya Mizugaki is on roll, having won five straight inside the Octagon.
If you're wondering why Mizugaki isn't next on the list for a title shot despite the streak, it's likely because all five of those wins have come by decision.
Winning decisions, especially split decisions, isn't the best way to go about getting a title shot.
So if Mizugaki can't get a title shot, what's the next best thing? How about the former champ Renan Barao?
Similar to how the UFC initially matched up Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic, pairing up Barao and Mizugaki would be beneficial for both parties involved.
Barao likely wants another top-10 opponent in his next outing while Mizugaki will be looking to validate his status as a member of the bantamweight elite. Mizugaki is an extremely tough fighter that has a way of making his opponents not look good even if they're winning, which might lead the UFC to avoid putting him with Barao.
But if it does choose this matchup, it should lead to some interesting scrambles on the feet and the ground.
Mizugaki's offense doesn't have a reverse gear and Barao is one of the most aggressive fighters in the UFC. Sounds like a Fight of the Night waiting to happen.
This is a superfight MMA fans have been dreaming of for quite some time. TJ Dillashaw may have put a damper on this potential bout, but the UFC can still make Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao happen.
If Cruz doesn't get the immediate title shot, it would make sense to pair these two up. Cruz hasn't competed since 2011 due to a series of injuries, but is still widely regarded as one of the best bantamweights in the world.
It may be more beneficial for Cruz to take a "tune-up fight" in his return, but given the risk/reward of taking what is perceived as an easy fight, he might as well fight Barao in a chance to re-validate his status as an elite fighter.
Cruz is one of the most agile strikers in recent memory, possessing some of the best—or worst, depending on your viewpoint—footwork in MMA to go with a solid wrestling base as well.
Very few fighters—none inside the Octagon—have been able to solve the Cruz riddle. However, Barao has all the tools to do just that.
He's explosive, technical and has the grappling credentials to give Cruz a handful no matter where the fight takes place.
A Barao-Cruz fight could easily be marketed as a No. 1 contender fight and either headline a UFC on Fox show or provide a quality co-main event for a pay-per-view.