NEWARK, N.J. – Take note UFC bantamweights: Champion Renan Barao (32-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) isn’t planning on leaving the division anytime soon.
While Barao’s Nova Uniao teammate and current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo (24-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) appears set on a move to lightweight to face current 155-pound title holder Anthony Pettis, Barao said he’s not interested in filling the hole that will be created by his fellow Brazilian’s move.
“No,” Barao flatly said at Saturday’s post-UFC 169 press conference in Newark, N.J. “I still have a long way to go at this weight division. I still have a lot of work to do.”
Barao, of course, defended the UFC bantamweight title for the first time at Saturday’s UFC 169 event, earning a first-round stoppage over Urijah Faber in the evening’s main event. It was his first time to step in the cage as a full UFC champion, as his previous three title-fight wins had all come while contesting a belt of the interim variety.
The 27-year-old Aldo has long discussed a potential move up in weight, as he was awarded the UFC’s featherweight belt at just 24 years old and has since seen his frame grow naturally larger. Barao has previously mentioned he’s not the biggest fan of cutting to 135 pounds. At UFC 169, MMAjunkie learned from sources close to the Nova Uniao team that Aldo weighed 160 pounds on fight night, but Barao was just behind him at 158 pounds.
Still, the 26-year-old Barao, with just one defense of the UFC bantamweight title, seems content to stay put for the time being.
“I just got the belt, so I’m not planning to go up,” Barao said.
Raphael Assuncao (21-4 MMA, 5-1 UFC), who is currently ranked No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, meets Francisco Rivera (10-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at UFC 170 later this month in a key bantamweight matchup. No. 9-ranked T.J. Dillashaw (9-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) picked up a big win over Mike Easton in January and could also prove a factor in the title picture very soon.
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