photo via - mmaweekly
Dana White tonight announced Renan Barao as the replacement for the injured Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, to take on Urijah Faber at the UFC's 148 card for the interim title.
Cruz, who injured his ACL in training last week, was only able to look on in disappointment as Barao walked into the TUF Live Training Centre for the live announcement and subsequent stare down.
Barao is coming into the July 7th fight with a 28-1 (1 NC) record, and is currently sitting at 5-0 in Zuffa owned promotions, fighting in the WEC before it was dissolved into the UFC. The Brazilian fighter and black belt in BJJ has shown to be extremely dominant on the ground, recently earning Fight of the Night honours for his first round submission win over local favourite Brad Pickett at UFC's Birmingham show in Nov 2011.
It was the decision win over fellow-WEC name Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143 that catapulted Barao into the title mix, with the original plan to face Ivan Menjivar at the same event he is now co-headling. This was to determine that number one title contender in the division.
While Barao has now been promoted, and with Michael McDonald injured, no word has been made on who the replacement is to meet Menjivar.
While Faber didn't say much during the announcement, it was an awkward laugh at the end of the Barao highlight reel that questioned his sense of comfort and control going into the bout. With Cruz, Faber had an enemy due to an issue of disrespect in the WEC days and had faced him twice before - with the series tied up.
Barao is unknown to Faber (the two have never crossed paths) and is a huge threat to show up not only the California Kid's own ground dominance but also to his pride. A loss to Barao will mean a fourth unsuccessful title attempt since losing the WEC Featherweight title to Mike Brown at WEC 36 in November 2008.
Cruz will continue to coach the remainder of the TUF Live season with two of his fighters, James Vick and Vinc Pichel making it through to next weeks semi finals.