Renan Barao has wanted to prove he is the best bantamweight in the world for a long time. He took a big step toward that by knocking out Eddie Wineland with a spinning back kick to the face, leading to a second-round finish in their interim bantamweight title fight.
Barao's kick landed on the face, and knocked Wineland to the center of the ring. Barao pounced and connected with two or three hard blows before referee Yves Lavigne stopped it at 39 seconds.
Barao retained the interim title, but the real prize is to come. He will fight regular champion Dominick Cruz early next year for the belt, assuming Cruz is healthy. Cruz has had several knee injuries and hasn't fought since Oct. 1, 2011.
UFC president Dana White has said if Cruz can't fight by early 2014, he'll be stripped of his belt and Barao will be the outright champion.
Barao looked like a champion Saturday with that fast finish, even if he wasn't great in a feeling-out first round. Nothing of significance landed from either man in the opening round, but Barao changed that in a big way early in the second.