While waiting on the sidelines for his ACL to heal, UFC
bantamweight champion Dominick
Cruz has been impressed by interim champ Renan
Most recently Barao submitted Michael
McDonald with an arm-triangle choke Saturday at UFC on Fuel TV
“He’s proven to be the best guy in the division underneath me,”
Cruz told the
Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “He’s proven that.
It’s been impressive how he’s been winning.”
Cruz expected Barao to get past McDonald. With that said, though,
he did give McDonald a chance in the early rounds due to his
“I was giving him the best chance to maybe put Barao down with one
of those punches, but I kind of had a feeling McDonald was going to
get stuck on the headhunt with Barao,” Cruz said. “[Barao’s] got a
very tight defense. You’ve got to open him up. You can’t just look
for that one-punch knockout because Barao’s got very good boxing
fundamentals and he understands boxing really well. You can’t just
throw a one-punch knockout and land it. You’ve got to set up your
big punches. You’ve got to throw punches in bunches. You’ve got to
go to the body to lower the guard from the head.”
McDonald did hurt Barao early, but the Brazilian took over the
fight before finishing it 3:57 into the fourth round.
“There’s a lot that’s got to go on to break down a guy like Barao,
to be able to trick him and get through his defense, and I think
also on top of that, Barao was twice the size of McDonald in there
really,” Cruz said. “He’s a big [bantamweight]. He’s cutting a lot
of weight, I think, and that definitely had a big part to play.
Once he got that bodylock, McDonald wasn’t going anywhere. He took
him right down with that quickly and just controlled him.”
Despite the loss, Cruz was complimentary of McDonald. He believes
the 22-year-old will only improve from going into the championship
rounds with Barao, though Barao of course is the man Cruz looks
forward to fighting when he’s healthy.
“I look forward to testing myself against him,” Cruz said. “He’s a
very worthy opponent and it’s going to be a fun fight. It’s one of
those fights where it’s a new puzzle to figure out. Nobody’s been
able to do it for over 19 fights now with Barao, and I would love
Listen to the
full interview (beginning at 1:50:35).