Renan Barao says he isn't the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world -- Jose Aldo is
MAY 16, 2014 12:42p ET
UFC president Dana White goes back and forth between Renan Barao and Jon Jones in the discussion about who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Barao himself respectfully disagrees -- he doesn't think he's No. 1 at all.
The UFC bantamweight champion appreciates White's praise very much. But in his mind, there is one person ahead of him and everyone else: Jose Aldo.
"Definitely Aldo," Barao told FOX Sports of his Nova Uniao teammate and UFC featherweight champion, through an interpreter. "I try to follow Aldo and get advice from him. He's been in the business a long time."
Barao, 27, has been very complimentary in the past of Aldo, someone he looks up to like an older brother. Barao told FOX Sports last year that if the two friends were to fight, Aldo would win. But, of course, they never would.
Both have plenty on their plate anyway. Barao defends his title against T.J. Dillashaw in the main event of UFC 173 on May 24 in Las Vegas. The Brazilian is a massive favorite -- as high as 10-to-1 at some sports books. Aldo, unanimously a top-three pound-for-pound fighter in the world, faces Chad Mendes at UFC 176 on Aug. 2 in Los Angeles.
“Definitely Aldo. I try to follow Aldo and get advice from him. He's been in the business a long time”
Barao (32-1, 1 NC) said he would have preferred to fight Raphael Assuncao, a fellow Brazilian, and that's who the UFC would have given him if Assuncao had not been injured. Dillashaw has never fought on a pay-per-view main card, let alone the main event, but he's no chump, either. The Team Alpha Male product is one of the most aggressive stand-up fighters in the UFC with a background as an NCAA Division I wrestler.
"I think T.J. has had some great fights and he deserves it," Barao said.
And let's be real here. Even Assuncao would have been a significant underdog against Barao. There isn't anyone in the bantamweight division who would not be. Barao's résumé is one of the most ridiculous in UFC history. He has not lost a fight since 2005 -- when he was 18 years old -- and has won 22 straight. The electric striker and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is coming very close to cleaning out the division.
There has been speculation that Aldo could move up to lightweight with Barao following right behind and taking Aldo's place in the featherweight division. Barao says that's premature.
"I'm not thinking about that and I don't think about that, because my team is the one who decides that," Barao said. "This is something that is not my decision. It needs to be made by my coaches. … I feel like I still have a lot to do in the division."
"A lot" may be an overstatement. But Barao makes an interesting point. This is only his first time defending the belt as the undisputed bantamweight champion. Before that, he was the interim titleholder while Dominick Cruz was attempting to come back from multiple injuries.
Cruz is targeting this summer for his return, but he clearly will not jump into a fight with Barao after more than two years off. He'll likely need a win or two to get back to that point. So, maybe Barao hangs around and waits another year for Cruz and then he bolts. But if he keeps dominating 135 pounds like he has been, it's inevitable.
After all, he's already being spoken about as the best fighter on Earth by White.
"It makes me really happy," Barao said. "I work for that. It really makes me happy to make the boss feel like that."
Even if he doesn’t himself.