This Saturday Afternoon: Renan Barão vs Michael McDonald



The interim strap will be on the line tomorrow afternoon on Fuel TV, with Renan Barão defending his throne against the 22-year-old Michael McDonald. The challenger earned his title shot by defeating Miguel Angel Torres via KO 10 months ago. When Dominick Cruz backed out of his fight with Urijah Faber, it was McDonald who was called to fight “The California Kid” for the interim title. However, McDonald suffered an injury of his own and would not be able to compete. In his place, Barão was the next person in line and signed on to fight the WEC golden boy. They stepped into the cage at UFC 149, the show that is widely agreed to have been the worse MMA PPV of recent memory. While the Faber-Barão fight wasn’t bad per se, it was lacking drama or intrigue as Barão easily outstriked Faber en route to a clear unanimous decision.

It’s hard to bet against products from the Nova União family. We saw featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo conquer a pound for pound great in Frankie Edgar earlier this month. Last night, Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas violently KO’d a man he considers his friend, Marcos Galvao (another Nova União fighter). I don’t think the fight will be as thrilling as Aldo-Edgar or feature an ending as violent as Dantas-Galvao. But I see Barão proving to be the best, active bantamweight in the world tomorrow afternoon.

The co-feature of the evening, Cub Swanson will attempt to continue his streak of quality wins in a fight against Dustin Poirier. Swanson had a spectacular 2012, knocking out George Roop, Ross Pearson, and Charles Oliveira. He humbled his critics and proved that he has improved substantially since Jose Aldo knocked him out in 2009. Poirier easily beat Max Holloway to start 2012, then lost a “Fight of the Year Candidate” to The Korean Zombie (Chan Sung Jung). He came back at the end of the year to defeat Jonathan Brookins in a thrilling, one round tilt. Whoever wins, we might see them fight for the UFC featherweight championship in a post-Aldo vs Pettis world. Or maybe even a title eliminator with Ricardo Lamas. Whatever the future holds, it’s safe to say this is a big fight in the 145 lbs. division.

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