A date is now set for Renan “Barao” Pegado’s first interim bantamweight title defense, as the hard-hitting Brazilian will face No. 1 contender Michael McDonald on Feb. 16 in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 7.
Promotion officials announced the booking early Thursday morning. UFC on Fuel TV 7 takes place at Wembley Arena in London and marks the Las Vegas-based organization’s first trip to the United Kingdom’s capital since October 2010.
Barao was initially expected to face undisputed bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz once “The Dominator” recovered from ACL surgery, but that title unification bout was nixed after Cruz injured the same knee in training last week.
Barao now faces McDonald on the strength of a 29-fight winning streak, with only a 2007 no-contest marring his record in his last 30 fights. The 25-year-old won the interim belt by stepping in for an injured Cruz to face Urijah Faber this past July at UFC 149, earning a one-sided unanimous decision over “The California Kid” to garner his first taste of UFC gold.
McDonald, meanwhile, has spent much of 2012 recovering from hand surgery following his first-round knockout of ex-WEC champion Miguel Torres at UFC 145 this past April. The highly regarded prospect has suffered just one setback in his pro career, and, like his opponent, the 21-year-old has been perfect since joining the UFC, rattling off four straight Octagon wins to earn a crack at Barao’s belt.