COMMENTARY | In the recent build up to Saturday night's UFC 169 event, UFC president Dana White said that Renan Barao is probably the top pound-for-pound fighter in all of MMA if he is able to stop challenger Urijah Faber in the main event. Although White has since wavered some on that claim, it brings up an interesting question about Barao's standing. There is no denying Barao's historic run of success, as he has gone 31-1-1 with one loss since 2005, or the daunting task of finishing Faber, as it's only happened twice in more than 11 years. However, even if Barao is able to win without having to go the distance, crowning him pound-for-pound king remains premature.
Doing so ignores the superior resume of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Because of the sudden fall of Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre walking away, Jones is the heir-apparent to the pound-for-pound throne and, regardless of what happens between Barao and Faber, nothing will happen to change that unless Jones loses.
For starters, one could look at the list of fighters Jones has beaten in the UFC and they would be justified assuming they were looking at a list of future hall of famers. Starting in early 2011, Jones went on a current streak of victories the likes of which has never been seen in MMA, beating the following in order: Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua (for the title), Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen and Alexander Gustaffson. The five consecutive wins from Rua to Belfort all represented wins over former UFC light heavyweight champions.
Making the streak even more impressive, except for a desperation armbar attempt by Belfort, Jones was only in trouble in his most recent fight against Gustaffson. Other than the bout against Evans, the Gustaffson bout was the first time during the streak anyone was even able to take Jones the distance. Next for Jones, the gauntlet will continue as he takes on Glover Teixeira before likely having to deal with either Gustaffson again or Daniel Cormier.
As impressive as Barao's streak has been, it is no match when compared with what Jones has gone through. As with most fighters, the list of bouts Barao had before making it into the mainstream U.S. MMA scene is littered with fighters the average fan has never heard of. Even the majority of Barao's wins in the WEC and UFC have come against guys who have had multiple recent losses or inconsistent histories.
To be sure, the lack of overall depth in the bantamweight division relative to the light heavyweights is something outside Barao's control. Also out of Barao's control is the fact that multiple injuries have prevented him the chance to beat Dominick Cruz, the former bantamweight champion with the 19-1 record who could validate his place in the rankings. But until Barao beats a few more top fighters, including Cruz, he cannot be conceivably be considered the pound-for-pound king without Jones losing first. This will remain the case even if he is able to do the nearly impossible and earn a stoppage win over Faber this weekend.
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Three Reasons Urijah Faber is the Perfect Opponent for Renan Barao at UFC 169
Del Pearson is a big MMA fan who has been to many live UFC events. His all-time favorite fighter is Randy Couture. Follow Del on Twitter @DelPearson44.
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