Saturday, February 24, 2018

Renan Barao lost his first fight and then won 33 in a row winning and successfully defending the UFC bantamweight championship three times. Then he lost the title to T.J. Dillashaw. Barao bounced back with a crushing win over Mitch Gagnon, but lost to Dillashaw again in the rematch, and moved to 145.

Barao lost his first fight at featherweight via decision vs. to Jeremy Stephens, and won the second via decision vs. Phillipe Nover. Then he dropped back to bantamweight, but given past issues with weight-cutting was directed by CSAC executive director Andy Foster to fight Aljamain Sterling at a 140 catchweight.

Saturday night he fights at featherweight vs. Brian Kelleher at the head of the prelims on big FOX Saturday night. It’s impossible to ignore that Barao won 33 in a row, and is 2-4 since. But during a recent interview with Brazil’s Combate, Barao, 30, talked about a recent major change.

“The preparation was the best possible,” he said to Evelyn Rodrigues and Raphael Marinho, via Google translate. “I already wanted to live in the USA, in the future I want to bring my son, and ATT went to change my training a little, to look for improvements. As I already had some friends of mine training there, like Caio Alencar, who said it was good, with different drills, new friends, new air, I decided to go there. Everything changed. I’m doing physical training with a different teacher, different boxing, different wrestling, I think it has improved a lot.”

He’s overcoming the language barrier as well.

“in English I’m not fluent, but I learn every day. By 2030 I’ll speak fluently,” he explained, laughing.

Kelleher, 31, came from Lou Neglia’s storied Ring of Combat, and has gone 2-1 in the UFC, most recently winning via TKO over Damian Stasiak at UFC Fight Night 118 in October.

“He’s a tough guy, he comes from victory, but I expect a nice knockout,” said Barao. “I’m ready to do my best.”