The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced Renan Barao will defend his interim UFC bantamweight title against Michael McDonald at UFC London on Feb. 16 at Wembley Arena in London, England.
The news comes just days after it was revealed that Dominick Cruz, the UFC’s 135-pound champion, underwent a second major knee operation that will delay his return to the Octagon. Cruz has not competed since defending his title against Demetrious Johnson in October 2011. The UFC created an interim bantamweight belt after Cruz tore his ACL and was forced to pull out of a scheduled UFC 148 fight with Faber in July following a coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter.
Barao (29-1, 1 NC) is coming off a unanimous decision win over Urijah Faber at UFC 149 in Calgary in July where he won the interim belt. The 25-year-old Brazilian is riding a 30-fight unbeaten streak, which is the longest unbeaten streak among any fighter currently on the UFC roster.
McDonald (15-1) last competed at UFC 145 in April when he defeated former WEC champion Miguel Torres by first-round knockout. The 21-year-old has been sidelined with a broken hand following his win over Torres.
In addition to Barao vs. McDonald the UFC announced six additional bouts that will appear on the London card, all of them featuring one fighter from England.
Here is a look at the fight card to date:
– Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald (for interim bantamweight title)
– Che Mills vs. Matthew Riddle
– Terry Etim vs. Renee Forte
– Paul Sass vs. Danny Castillo
– Phil Harris vs. Ulysses Gomez
– Vaughan Lee vs. Motonobu Tezuka
– Andy Ogle vs. Josh Grispi
UFC London will serve as UFC on FUEL TV 7 and will be available on Sportsnet.
NOTE: It was reported earlier this week by MMAJunkie.com that Dan Hardy, a native of Nottingham, England, said he will not be ready to compete at the event. The popular 30-year-old striker has won two straight fights and recently beat TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah by unanimous decision in September. Hardy has competed five times in England during his time in the UFC. He is 4-1 during that stretch.