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After 2-fight featherweight experiment, UFC's Renan Barao reportedly heading back to bantamweight



After a two-fight run as a featherweight, former bantamweight champion Renan Barao appears to be ready to move back to 135 pounds.

Barao (34-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC), according to Brazilian MMA news outlet, will end his featherweight experiment with a 1-1 record in the division.

Barao’s move to 145 pounds came after one infamous struggle to make the bantamweight limit for a title fight rematch with T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 177 in August 2014. For that fight, Barao had to be hospitalized on the day of the weigh-ins after a brutal weight cut and was removed from the card. Dillashaw fought and beat Joe Soto, instead.

Barao eventually got another shot at Dillashaw, who had beaten him soundly with a fifth-round TKO at UFC 173 to win the belt, at UFC on FOX 17 in July 2015. But again, Dillashaw made easy work of him and stopped him 35 seconds into the fourth round with a TKO.

After that, and a 10-month layoff, Barao moved to featherweight. But in his return to the division after more than a decade, he dropped a unanimous decision to Jeremy Stephens at UFC Fight Night 89.

This past September, though, he rebounded for his first win in nearly two years – a unanimous decision over Phillipe Nover at UFC Fight Night 95 in his home country of Brazil. But despite that first UFC win at 145 pounds, he appears ticketed for a return to 135.

Prior to his loss to Dillashaw in their first meeting, Barao had one of the most legendary runs in MMA history. He lost his pro debut in 2005, but then wno his next 32 fights. Included in that mix was a pair of submissions in the WEC, then a 7-0 start to his UFC career.

He won the interim bantamweight title with a decision over Urijah Faber at UFC 149, then had stoppage wins over Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland to defend that interim belt. Eventually, the UFC made him the regular bantamweight champion after stripping Dominick Cruz of the title, and he defended the belt against Faber again at UFC 169.

But at UFC 173, his difficulties started with the dominant win by Dillashaw, then the weight cut that went off the rails before the scheduled rematch. He got a bonus-winning submission over Mitch Gagnon in December 2014 to work his way back to that rematch with Dillashaw, but then the former champ took care of him again.

The title picture is different now that Barao appears set to go back to bantamweight. Dominick Cruz eventually beat Dillashaw to win the belt. But now Cody Garbrandt is the champion after dominating Cruz, and will defend the title against Dillashaw in July.

Time will tell if Barao can work his way back into the mix in the division.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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