It has been a rough past three years for one of MMA’s former very best pound-4-pound fighters in the octagon. When Renan Barao burst onto the scene in 2011 with his devasting win over Brad Pickett, the sky appeared to be the limit for the Brazilian. And to a point, it was.
Barao would go 6-0 in the UFC and 32-1 overall including four wins in UFC title fights(three interim, two interim defense, and one undisputed defense) before finally losing his first fight in almost ten years. That loss would come to none other than the current champion, TJ Dillashaw in what was and still is to this day one of the biggest upsets in MMA’s history.
Since that loss, Barao has gone 2-4 with a flip-flopping of weight classes and a camp change. Barao detailed the changes he’s made when speaking to MMAJunkie:
“I did my entire camp at American Top Team, it was great. I really enjoyed it. There are a lot of people there. I was looking for something different, something I hadn’t seen yet in terms of training, in order to tweak some details. It’s good to keep growing, to keep pursuing evolution. We know that MMA is ever-changing, so it’s good to always get new information. My eating has changed completely, I stayed lighter, and it’s been easier than the last time. [The weight cut] is always a bit annoying, but it’s all going as planned.
It didn’t matter who the opponent was. The important thing is to keep working, to show the evolution and the results of my training. What makes me stronger are my friends and family, who are always ready to offer me some words of comfort. My concern is giving my best to my family. This is the main focus, really.
That’s everyone’s goal in there and mine isn’t different. I want to return and put on great fights. But it’s one thing at a time. I’m thinking about this fight, then the next and then getting back to the belt, of course.”
Barao will be the last fight on the prelims for UFC on Fox 28 from Orlando, Florida this Saturday when he takes on Brian Kelleher. A win for Barao would be his first at his former playground of 135-pounds since 2014.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/21/2018.