Nova Uniao frontman Andre Pederneiras foresees a bright future for Renan Barao in the Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight division.
Barao made an unsuccessful debut at 145 pounds on May 29, as he lost a unanimous decision to Jeremy Stephens in the UFC Fight Night “Almeida vs. Garbrandt” co-main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Upon landing back home in Rio de Janeiro, Pederneiras discussed the former bantamweight champion’s prospects in a new weight class.
“Me and Jair Lourenco were expecting a tough fight against Stephens, and that’s what happened,” Pederneiras told Sherdog.com. “Barao had a great first round, lost the second and got close in the third round. It was a great restart for his career, and I truly believe in a few more years, he will be fighting for the belt.”
Pederneiras scoffed at the idea of an eventual confrontation between Barao and Nova Uniao teammate Jose Aldo. The 29-year-old Aldo will face Frankie Edgar for the interim featherweight championship at UFC 200 on July 9. A win there could set up a rematch between Aldo and Conor McGregor, the man who dethroned him.
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“We’re in no hurry and expect everything to happen at the right time,” Pederneiras said. “While Barao is adapting and growing in the new division, Aldo will get the belt back. After some time, he will naturally move up to the lightweight division and open space for Renan to fight for the title [at 145 pounds].”
Aldo promised fans a quick finish over Edgar during a Q&A at UFC 198. He defeated “The Answer” by unanimous decision in their first meeting a little more than three years ago. Edgar has not lost since.
“That was a conversation with fans,” said Pederneiras, downplaying Aldo’s remarks. “The fact is that Aldo is training a lot and is really motivated and self-confident. Of course, he wants to win fast, but he’s ready for anything. There’s no doubt he respects Frankie a lot, but he will do whatever he needs to do to beat him again.”
Pederneiras also addressed the difficulty some Brazilian fighters have endured so far in 2016. Brazilians lost 26 of their first 49 fights inside the Octagon.
“If you analyze all the numbers, we have no reason to be pessimistic,” he said. “I would love to see Brazil’s economy in the same crisis as our MMA crisis. We have Brazilians challenging for five titles in the next two months. I don’t believe that’s ever happened. We also have [Ronaldo] ‘Jacare’ [Souza] close to the middleweight belt and Demian Maia close to the welterweight belt. [Fabricio] Werdum and [Junior] ‘Cigano’ [dos Santos] are former champions and near the top of the heavyweight division. So in 10 weight classes, we have eight possible title challenges from Brazilians. Why are people talking about a crisis? It doesn’t make any sense to me.”