Michael McDonald to Challenge Renan Barao for UFC Interim Bantamweight Belt in 2013


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Renan “Barao” Pegado will defend his UFC interim bantamweight title against rising star Michael McDonald in 2013.

The planned booking was revealed on Tuesday’s episode of “UFC Tonight” on Fuel TV, though a specific date for the fight was not mentioned.

Barao won the interim title this past July by outpointing Urijah Faber at UFC 149 after undisputed champion Dominick Cruz pulled out of the bout due to a torn ACL. The Brazilian was then expected to face Cruz in a title unification bout when “The Dominator” returned from knee surgery, but Cruz’s comeback was cut short when he knee failed again last week in training, forcing him back onto the operating table.

“I was doing what I was allowed to do. I was on a good comeback, right on schedule, but apparently it just happened. I was training, and I found out the hard way that the cadaver tendon wasn’t as strong as it should have been at that point,” Cruz said during his “UFC Tonight” appearance. “It got weak, and it failed because it didn’t take to my body as well as it should have. I was in my brace when it occurred. I was doing everything I was allowed to. The cadaver didn’t take to my body, and the cadaver tendon failed and it split. It happens. There is nothing you can do.”

Barao, 25, has not lost in his last 30 outings, with only a 2007 no-contest blemishing his record since he he was defeated in his April 2005 pro debut. The hard-hitting Brazilian joined the UFC last year and has looked razor sharp thus far, besting Cole Escovedo, Brad Pickett, Scott Jorgensen and Faber en route to capturing the interim belt.

McDonald, meanwhile, has not competed since knocking out former World Extreme Cagefighting titlist Miguel Torres at UFC 145, undergoing hand surgery following the bout. Like Barao, “Mayday” has been perfect in his Octagon career thus far, posting four victories against no defeats. Prior to his finish of Torres, the 21-year-old competed thrice last year, besting Edwin Figueroa, Chris Cariaso and Alex Soto.

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