Renan Barao will put his UFC interim bantamweight title on the line against Michael McDonald, according to Tuesday's edition of UFC Tonight on Fuel TV. While the bout has been agreed upon by both fighters, a date and location have yet to be determined.
The decision to move forward with Barao as interim champion comes after news broke that current bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz underwent a second surgery on his injured left knee. Cruz last defended his title against Demetrious Johnson on Oct. 1, 2011, but the new surgery means it will be at least another year before the champion is again able to compete.
Cruz was originally scheduled to defend his title against Urijah Faber over the summer, before the knee injury injury caused Cruz to pull out of the fight. That led to a bout between Faber and Barao for the interim title at UFC 149 in Calgary. Barao (29-1, 1 no-contest), who trains with featherweight champion Jose Aldo at Nova Unaio, cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
At just 21, MacDonald has the opportunity to become the youngest titleholder in UFC history. The Modesto, Calif. native is 15-1 in his career with nine knockouts and four submissions. His most recent victory was a first-round knockout of former WEC champion Miguel Torres at UFC 145. Jon Jones, who was 23 years and eight months old when he defeated Mauricio Rua for the UFC light heavyweight title, holds the record for youngest champion (This does not include tournament championships from the UFC's early days).
While there have been several interim champions in UFC history, actual title defenses of interim belts have been few and far between. The last one came at UFC 92, when Frank Mir defeated interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to set up a unification bout with Brock Lesnar.