Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao is making the move up to featherweight this Sunday at UFC Fight Night 88, and he’s excited to compete after a much less severe weight cut when he faces Jeremy Stephens.
“That’ll be a great help,” Barao said in an interview with Combate in Brazil (translated by Lucas Rezende at BloodyElbow.com). “I would drain myself too much and I would even lose my speed and my strength. I wasn’t getting my weight back properly. This time my recovery will be much better.”
A win over Stephens will establish him in the top end of the featherweight field, and continued success could eventually lead to the potential for a fight with teammate Jose Aldo. According to Barao it’s not a fight he’d necessarily be opposed to taking, but he’s also not going to give it serious thought until the time comes.
“Future will tell,” he said. “I’ll speak with my team, because I’m not the only one who decides that. I would have to talk to everyone, but that’s not something I’m thinking about now.”
Penick’s Analysis: Barao at featherweight is ultimately going to be a good thing. That cut down to bantamweight wasn’t healthy, and he had significant issues making weight in the past, so this could help his longevity in the move up. Of course, after a second devastating loss to T.J. Dillashaw, there will be questions about his chin and his ability to take punishment from the likes of Stephens and other top featherweights. Still, if he succeeds on Sunday it will be a good launch point for his 145 lb. run. Eventually facing Aldo could be highly intriguing, but it’s unlikely to actually come together.
[Photo (c) Jason Silva via USA Today Sports]