Renan Barao not ready to move up yet, has work to do at 135

Alexandre Loureiro, Inovafoto

Renan Barao has finished six of his nine opponents under the Zuffa banner, and he’s not planning to go five rounds against T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 173.

Unbeaten over the last 33 fights, Barao is set to put the UFC bantamweight title on the line one more time in the UFC 173 main event in Las Vegas, Nev., on May 24. He feels ready to give Dillashaw his first submission loss.

"He’s getting better in the striking area and has strong wrestling, so he’s really tough and dangerous," Barao told MMAFighting.com.

"Let’s wait and see what’s going to happen. I’m always comfortable to stand and fight. If I’m in a disadvantage, I’ll grab him and use my jiu-jitsu. I’m always training jiu-jitsu, I’m always training with the gi. If he takes me down, he can get submitted. If we go to the ground, I will sweep or submit him."

Barao was originally expected to put his belt on the line against fellow Brazilian bantamweight Raphael Assuncao. However, Assuncao couldn’t take the fight because of an injury.

"I already expected that Dillashaw would get the next shot after Raphael because he was on a good streak," Barao said. "He lost to Raphael, but it was a close fight, so it doesn’t matter who’s getting the shot first. Let’s fight and I’ll do my best to keep the title."

Dillashaw didn’t feel he lost to Assuncao at UFC Fight Night 29 last October, and Barao thinks he may have a point.

"It was a great fight, a tough fight for both, and it could have gone either way," he said. "Raphael fought better in the end and that’s why he got the win."

With a perfect 9-0 run in the UFC and WEC, Barao wouldn’t be opposed to return to the featherweight division if teammate Jose Aldo moves up to lightweight in the future.

"That’s up to my coaches Andre Pederneiras and Jair Lourenco," Barao said. "Whatever is best for the team and for me is going to happen. If they want me at 135, I’m staying. If they want me at 145, I will move up. But we’re not thinking about that yet. I have a lot of challenges in my division yet. I’ve defended my undisputed title only once, so I have a lot of work to do."

"It’s always harder to cut the last pounds, but everybody has to go through this," he continued. "I always made weight well, hours before the weigh-ins, so I won’t have any problems with that."

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