Former bantamweight champion Renan Barao will return to action in his native Brazil against Mitch Gagnon at UFC Fight Night on December 20th the promotion have announced.
This marks quite a fall from grace for Barao who had been all set to try to win his title back in an immediate rematch with TJ Dillashaw at UFC 177 in August before he passed out in the bath during a tough weight-cut the day of the weigh-ins, bumping his head in the process, resulting in the fight being cancelled.
A frustrated Dana White later informed the media that Barao would now have to fight again before earning another shot at the title despite the fact that up until his fourth round TKO loss to Dillashaw back at UFC 173 in May, Barao had been unbeaten in nine years and had been declared by White himself to potentially be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
So, instead of Dillashaw he’s now going to be facing the No.12 ranked Mitch Gagnon instead who’s on a nice four fight winning streak in the division, but has yet to fight anyone close to Barao’s caliber during that time.
This fight could be looked at in two different ways – either it could be seen as a form of disrespect to the former dominant champion to be paired up with someone who’s not even ranked in the top 10, or it’s the UFC throwing Faber a softball (on paper at least) in order to take the pressure off, give him a good chance to get a win under his belt and be ready to fight for the title in 2015.
Barao’s not the only fighter receiving this treatment though, as it’s also been announced that Urijah Faber’s next fight is also coming against the a fighter not currently ranked in the top 10, Francisco Rivera.
Meanwhile, the division’s fourth ranked bantamweight Raphael Assuncao, fresh off his seventh victory in a row in the Octagon, is presumably sitting at home scratching his head wondering what he has to do to get a fight with a top contender.