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Stunner: Renan Barao yanked from UFC 177 during difficult weight cut

Kevin Iole
Cagewriter

Former bantamweight champion Renan Barao suffered some sort of incident while cutting weight in his hotel room in Sacramento, Calif., on Friday and was pulled from his title bout Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in the main event of UFC 177 against champion T.J. Dillashaw for medical reasons.

It remains unclear the nature of Barao's medical condition, but one UFC source said, "I know he's going to be fine, but he's definitely not fighting Saturday."

Nova Uniao, Barao's fight team, issued a statement to MMA Fighting. The statement said Barao was dizzy when getting out of the tub, slipped and hit his head against the wall. It said he passed out and was taken to the hospital.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said Barao was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

 "Safety has to come first," Fertitta said. "We just wanted to make sure he was all right. My understanding is that he is [OK] and that everyone was being extra cautious, so he was taken to the hospital to be checked."

Considered a large bantamweight, Barao was replaced in the main event by Joe Soto. Soto, who will be making his UFC debut, had been scheduled to fight Anthony Birchak in the openight fight of the night. Now, he'll shift to the main event to challenge Dillashaw. Soto is 15-2 and on a six-fight winning streak.

Immediately after weighing in, Dillashaw accused Barao of being afraid.

"He's scared, you know?" Dillashaw said while being interviewed by UFC television analyst Joe Rogan on the stage only seconds after successfully making weight. "He don't want it. His coaches wanted the rematch more than he did. He's made this weight before and it's funny he didn't want to do it now."

Soto, a former Bellator champion, said he had was excited to get the opportunity. He said he accepted the bout without hesitation.

"This is something you have to step up for, something you can't pass up," Soto said. "When you have opportunities like this, you jump at them. When the matchmakers asked me if I wanted this fight, I said yes immediately."

It was the third hit the card took in recent weeks. The original co-main event was a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Chris Cariaso. That was moved to the main event of UFC 178 on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas when light heavyweight champion Jon Jones injured a knee in wrestling practice and had to pull out of his fight with Daniel Cormer.

It comes on the heels of the cancellation of UFC 176, when featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Barao's teammate, had to pull out of his fight on Aug. 2 in Los Angeles, with an injury. 

Earlier on Friday, former Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo had to pull out of his fight with Scott Jorgensen, also for undisclosed medical reasons.

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