Renan Barao wants to take Dominick Cruz’s title with a win, not due to injury

Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO -- This is the last time you will hear about Renan Barao’s interim bantamweight championship.

According to the 135-pound phenom, who defeated Eddie Wineland at UFC 165, Dana White has told him he won’t be defending his interim title when he returns to the Octagon in 2014.

"Dana said I won’t defend this belt anymore," Barao told MMAFighting.com.

If Dominick Cruz isn’t cleared to compete at the beginning of 2014, UFC will strip him the title and give it to Barao. The Brazilian believes it’s fair since Cruz haven’t fought since 2011, although that’s not what he wants to happen.

"I’m rooting for him to recover so we can fight," he said. "A lot of people want to watch us fight. Our goal is to give the fans this fight. Fighting him would be better than just earning the title with him being stripped so no one would ever say I haven’t fought him."

Despite the fact that Barao is labeled the interim champion, he believes he is the true No. 1 in the bantamweight division after defeating the likes of Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald, Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgensen.

"It doesn’t bother me at all, I consider myself the champion," he said. "People there are with me every day and my fans consider me the champion, so it doesn’t bother me at all. UFC will make a decision about this and I hope to fight Dominick so we can answer all the questions about this."

The win over Wineland was Barao’s sixth inside the Octagon, and the first he ends with a knockout.

"It was a great fight," he said. "We knew Eddie Wineland was a tough fighter and had a heavy hand, especially early in the round, so (Andre Pederneiras) told me to protect myself a lot in the beginning of the fight. I was just warming up in the first round so it was a close round, but then in the second I started to impose my game and move forward."

"I had the opportunity to try that kick," Barao continued. "I always try that kick during my fights but fortunately I landed this time and got the knockout."

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