UFC 130 Fight Card: 10 Must-See Highlights of UFC Bantamweight Renan Barão
He may be the most lethal and most promising Bantamweight that you've never heard of.
His official record is 25-1 with 1 no-contest due to an illegally utilized soccer kick, with 12 submission wins, seven decision wins and six wins by form of knockout against the split decision loss in his first career fight.
Breaking down the record even further, he has unanimously won by decision six times, with one split decision victory, as well as five wins by rear-naked choke, one win by kneebar, two wins by armbar, two wins by triangle choke, one win by Kimura and one win by Ankle Lock.
Mix all that together with three TKO wins by punches, one TKO win due to an arm injury suffered by his opponent in the first 58 seconds of the third round of their fight and two wins by way of KO (one of which was due to a knee), and what you have is the man who will stand across the cage from former WEC Featherweight Champion Cole Escovedo at UFC 130.
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Renan Barão of the Nova Uniao Jiu-Jitsu Academy—famous for such stars as former DREAM Featherweight Champion Bibiano "The Flash" Fernandes, former Sengoku Featherweight Champion and current Bellator Featherweight "The Monster of Rio" Marlon Sandro, and current UFC Featherweight Champion Jose "Scarface" Aldo.
Barão is 25-0 with that no-contest ever since his first pro fight, which he lost, and he will look to extend his streak to 26-0 at Escovedo's expense.
First, however, we must take a trip through the career of "The Baron" to understand what Escovedo has his hands full with come May 28th.
The 3-Round War with Paulo Dantas
Barao can't be accused of being in fights with scrubs. Brazilians always bring their own brand of fights every time.
Case in point, his fight with Dantas, which was a very close one that I watched in full and thought could have gone in Dantas' favor, but scored 29-28 for Barao.
How did I come to that?
Easy: Barao gets hit early, catches a knee and gets taken down in the fight, but while both men dominated rounds, Dantas didn't seem to pressure Barao as much as the fight might want you to believe.
Besides, you always have to account for the action on the ground—anyone can take someone down, but not everyone tries to do something with the takedown after they get it.
Barao landed a few short shots with his takedowns, but he was also controlling the action as well as Dantas' position on the ground.
That, plus when Dantas got the fight to the ground and appeared to be dominating Barao, it was Barao that was being just a little bit more active.
At the end of the day, it's the little bits that make the big difference, and the little bits paid heavy dividends toward the success Barao had here.
The Throwdown at Eagle FC with Marcio Nunes
Eagle FC hosted an event on Sept. 26, 2009, in Sao Paulo, Brazil featuring some of the most promising Brazilian talents in MIxed Martial Arts.
That night, the multitudes in Sao Paulo were treated to spectacular performances, but in particular they bore witness to two highly notable events on that night:
One of those two things was Patricio Pitbull landing a sick head kick and following up with a barrage of strikes to force the referee stoppage in his bout with the then-debuting Vinicius Borba Zini.
The other of the two was what happened before Pitbull's fight.
Marcio Nunes didn't just stand and let Barao pummel him; he actually stood, traded, and put on an entertaining fight with Barao.
The only flaw he showed was that he gave away how hurt he was to Barao.
Once that takedown happened, Barao went for the kimura, and that was all she wrote.
Barao Takes 5:21 to Annihilate Jurandir Sardinha at Platinum Fight Brazil
One of Youtube's favorite fights to show of Barao, this one is from the first of two Platinum Fight Brazil events that Barao appeared in.
The fight starts off as a tactical striking battle with Barao landing good shots and his opponent Jurandir Sardinha throwing a few serious leg kicks, but the trouble begins in Round 2.
Barao starts to turn it up a little bit more, cementing his argument with a knee and an onslaught of strikes wicked enough to quote Mortal Kombat and say, "Renan Barao wins...BRUTALITY!"
Hardcore followers of Barao's journey will tell you that this is one of the most impressive and most emphatic finishes of this man's career, and it helped to establish Barao's reputation as being a lighting-fast fighter when the battle stays on the feet.
Platinum Fight 2: Barao vs. Jorge Enciso
Barao made his way to Platinum Fight 2 to take on Jorge Enciso in what was his second to last fight before his WEC debut.
What any new fans of Barao should take notes of is the Jiu-Jitsu of Barao, which has defined his career and was on full display in this bout.
First Barao gets the back and rolls into the perfect chance to get a rear naked choke, but Enciso defends the hold well enough for Barao to wisely give it up.
Eventually, Barao finds himself on top of Enciso, and at first, it seems like he could get an arm triangle, but Barao finds it tough to get it on properly from the half guard, and after doing a little bit more work, Barao finally gets the rear naked choke in and secures the tap.
Barao Shows Andre Minhoca Why You Don't Mess with the Baron
Barao faced off against Andre "Minhoca" Luiz in a three-round bout at Watch Out Combat Show 3, and much like the Dantas fight, the overall story was the intelligent defense and control shown by Barao.
The entire fight in on YouTube, but the best example of how Barao controlled Luiz in order to dominate this fight begins in the second round.
The wrestling has always been the question mark surrounding Barao, as he's one of those guys that knows how to get a takedown, and he sometimes does stay active after he gets it, but more often than not, it appears as though he's not sure what to do it in (insert "That's what she said" joke from The Office here).
At the end of the day, the victory for Barao is like a college degree. You obviously want to get it as quickly as possible, but it's really more about if you get it than when you get it.
I think I just opened up another moment to reference The Office, so I'll just let you check the fight out and see for yourself what Barao does here.
The Destruction of Erinaldo "Pitbull" Rodriguez at Shooto 3: The Way of Brazil
At Shooto 3 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Barao took on fellow Brazilian Erinaldo "Pitbull" Rodriguez in what has since become one of the defining career moments for the Nova Uniao sensation.
At first, it seems as though a knockout victory is in order after a straight right hand connects, but then a kick presses pause on the action.
Keep in mind that this happened in 2007, a year before shots to the back of the head were illegal, and under Shooto rules, a kick to the head, groin, or throat of a fighter was illegal.
In my eyes, the kick landed on the left shoulder, but it is what it is.
What happens next is that Barao gets a quick takedown, appears to almost get caught in a guillotine attempt, and after a struggle from the top, he finally gets the ankle lock in.
This fight happened early in the career of Barao, but few ways of making an early career statement are as emphatic as the one Barao made on this night.
"Ronaldo Jr." Gets His Wrecked by "The Baron" at Natal Cage Vale Tudo
A local promotion in Natal, Brazil known as NCVT hosted an event in May of 2008 featuring some of Brazil's toughest competitors.
Two notables were in action, as Barao faced off against Ronaldo "Junior" Figueiredo, and Joao Paulo—who won his second career fight by decision at the expense of Barao—fought Francisco Silva.
Fun fact: After the win over Barao, Paulo would go on to beat a handful of Brazilian talent, including three more wins over Silva after a unanimous-decision victory over Silva in Natal but would fall short to both of the Pitbull Freire Brothers (the loss to Patricio came first) as well as current UFC Featherweight and possible UFC 134 attraction Yuri Alcantara.
As for Barao, he made good use of the wrestling he did possess, and while the Wrestling has often been seen as the one question mark surrounding him, what he was able to do against Junior was enough to convince the crowd that Junior did not win the bout by any means or figures.
The Baron Puts WIlliam Parrudinho to Sleep in 2:25 of Round 1 at
"WOCS - Watch Out Combat Show 2"
That's how the marquee read outside of Club Oasis in Rio on Sept. 28th, 2008, when Renan Barao four William "Parrudinho" Porfirio.
I believe the video does not show the entire fight, but as you can probably guess, it's a head kick of sorts that sets up the flying knee that ends Parrudinho's evening.
That's right, kids. Brazilian dudes with sick Jiu-Jitsu can (and 9-out-of-10 times, WILL) wreck your S**T on the feet whenever you least expect it.
Jungle Fight 17 (vs. Sergio Silva Rodrigues): Renan's Last Fight Before the WEC
You can watch the fight here if you want to see for yourself how this one went.
The fight, a Jungle Fight 17 attraction on Feb. 27th of last year, pitted Barao against Sergio Rodrigues in what was a lopsided affair from the start.
While tactical for the most part, it was also an affair that could easily be seen for Barao from the first moment Barao was able to hurt Rodrigues.
The unanimous-decision win must have been complete domination to somebody in the WEC brass, because he would get signed to the WEC that summer as a result of this win.
The World Takes Note of Renan Barao at WEC 49
First off, I wish I could post the actual fight on here instead of the weigh-ins where you only see Barao for about 10 seconds or less.
Anyway, it was a bad night to be Anthony Leone's arm.
It took three rounds for Barao to get Anthony Leone—a late replacement for the then-injured Clint Godfrey—down to the ground and in a position to submit to the arm bar, but he certainly did just that.
For anyone curious to see what the arm bar looked like, you can check it out here.
If Escovedo cannot outstrike or outgrapple this explosive and unpredictable ace at UFC 130, he too will fall as the others have in the past as Barao continues his ascent towards elite-fighter status and the UFC Bantamweight Title.