UFC 165 has been developed to be a very solid mixed martial arts card from top to bottom. Two important fights within the lightweight and middleweight divisions, along with a heavyweight bout that should end with a finish were dropped into the main card that features two title fights. While Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson are getting their shine; the bantamweight champion, Renan Barao, has traveled under the radar. Unfortunately, the UFC is truly missing an opportunity to promote a fighter who may be their most dominant champion.
Renan Barao has not been defeated in nearly ten years of consistent MMA competition. Many experts and fighters, such as Urijah Faber, tried to bat their eye at that stat and suggest that Barao was fighting lesser competition and may be overrated. But Faber, along with six others have fallen to the Brazilian athlete since coming under Zuffa employ. When looking at Barao's performance in the past, it's clear that the UFC should take more time in pushing the bantamweight champion to the forefront instead of shuffling him away as the promotion's least known title holder.
Barao is a proven finisher, which is always praised in the world of combat sports. Of his 30 victories he has 20 finishes, 14 by submission and 6 by form of knockout. Since stepping into the WEC and eventually the UFC, that trend has continued as he's finished three of six opponents by forcing a tap out. His victory over Michael McDonald at UFC on Fuel TV 7 was perhaps the most impressive as he finished off a young fighter that many expect to become a dominant force in the UFC. Except they forget the fact that Renan is only 26 with all of the potential of being a long term champion himself.
One issue that prevents Barao from being pushed to the forefront is the lack of competitors within the bantamweight division. When looking at the top ten within the group a win over Eddie Wineland on Saturday will give him a victory over the top three competitors in his division. Beyond that he's also defeated two other individuals in the top ten. If Raphael Assuncao can get past T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 29 next month he would be the next contender to the title.
The UFC has done a good job getting their Brazilian stars over in their home country so one must question why Renan has not been given a piece of the spotlight there as well. In looking at the fights that have been presented in Brazil during 2013 it's odd that Renan has not been featured on any of them. He could easily be the main event of the UFC Fight Night 32 event in November, but that opportunity was given to countryman Vitor Belfort. The examples go beyond this event, but the opportunities to build Barao up to a recognizable name have been missed. Perhaps it is the fact that he doesn't speak English, which has also stifled Jose Aldo and Anderson Silva in a sense, but he has fallen well behind in the popularity race.
Renan Barao versus Eddie Wineland is a dynamic match up that features two very active and very exciting bantamweights. While the UFC hasn't given the bout much of a push leading up to the event; it could very well be the contest that has everyone talking when the night is over.