UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao left no doubt that he is the best fighter in the 135 pound weight class by recording a first-round TKO victory over Urijah Faber at UFC 169.
While the ending in New Jersey was somewhat controversial, there is no denying that Faber had been rocked after being on the receiving end of some devastating punches from the undisputed champion. Barao had badly hurt “The California Kid” on a couple of occasions with precise rights hands and was pounding on Faber with hammer fists when the fight ended at the 3:42 mark. The controversy stemmed from referee Herb Dean electing to stop the fight even though Faber was giving him a thumbs up sign to show that he still had his wits about him.
“The Baron” is now unbeaten in 33 consecutive fights and made it a third successful title defense. He’s beaten Faber, Eddie Wineland and Michael McDonald in impressive fashion, recording finishes in all three of those contests. He’s 7-0 in the UFC and hasn’t tasted defeat since 2005.
Barao had originally been scheduled to face Dominick Cruz in a unification title bout, but ended up being promoted to undisputed champion when Cruz was forced out of the fight due to a groin injury. Cruz has been on the shelf since 2011 due to injuries and it will be interesting to see whether the former champion receives a tune-up fight when he’s ready to return or if the UFC decides to re-book Barao vs. Cruz next. It’s going to take a remarkable effort for anyone to dethrone Barao, as he has taken his already remarkable skill set to a whole new level.
For Faber, the result was obviously extremely disappointing, as it ended a four-fight win streak and marked the second time that he had failed against Barao in a title affair. He lost a five-round decision to the Brazilian at UFC 149 when Barao became interim champ. Faber had a high level of confidence heading into the matchup after an impressive 4-0 mark last year and opted to take the fight on short notice when Cruz was forced to withdraw.
Faber is now 0-3 in title fights inside the Octagon, and while he was classy in defeat, you have to wonder whether another opportunity will come his way again.