Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao saw opportunity slip through his fingertips Friday, as just 24 hours before a title rematch with T.J. Dillashaw, he passed out from a bad weight cut and was unceremoniously removed from the fight.
However, Barao's coach and manager, Andre Pederneiras, told Combate the whole incident was the result of one bad, freak mishap and not because his star client cuts too much weight to make the 135-pound limit, per a translation by Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting.
We started the first rounds at the tub and, after approximately 20 minutes, when Barao was leaving the tub, he completely fainted. When he was going down, I held him, but he had so much cream on him, (he slipped) and his head touched the wall. We laid him on the ground but, from that moment on, he stayed out for a long time. ... When he had to go to the hospital, the UFC had to cancel the fight immediately. It was UFC’s option, and based on Barao’s situation, I saw no way how he could fight.
Pederneiras goes on to say that The Baron never had a problem making bantamweight in the past and blamed a heavy workload (three scheduled fights since February) on the issues with the scale this time around.
The UFC shockingly announced Barao's removal from UFC 177 just hours before Friday's weigh-ins, with former Bellator featherweight champ Joe Soto stepping up to the plate on just a little over a day's notice, per Damon Martin of Fox Sports.
Soto was already set to make his UFC debut at the pay-per-view event against Anthony Birchak, but given the circumstances, that bout was quickly scrapped to salvage the main event of the evening.
Soto became one of the unlikeliest title challengers in UFC history on the strength of a six-fight win streak (five finishes) on the regional scene.
While Soto proved to be a game opponent for 20-plus minutes, the Team Alpha Male standout was too much for him. Dillashaw finished Soto off with a head kick and subsequent punches midway through the fifth and final frame.
Not surprisingly, UFC President Dana White showed zero empathy for Barao in this situation, making it abundantly clear that the Brazilian won't be receiving a pay check from the company after this debacle, per Jesse Holland of MMA Mania.
When he is ready to make his return to the Octagon, who will be a suitable opponent for Barao? Will that bout be contested at 135 pounds?