24-year-old Brazilian prospect Renan Barao will face Brad Pickett tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 138: Leben vs. Muñoz in what will be his second fight with the promotion. The talented young fighter defeated Cole Escovedo via unanimous decision in his UFC debut back in May and explained this week that he transitioned smoothly from that fight into training for Pickett, as he underwent similar preparation for both.
“It wasn’t very different, since for my last fight I didn’t train a lot of wrestling,” Barao said of his training for Pickett. “I put a lot of hard work on Thai boxing and boxing. As I’ve been doing jiu-jitsu for such a long time, I think this is going to be the difference in this fight.”
Barao sports an impressive 26-1 record – compiled almost entirely in Brazil – and hasn’t been defeated since the very first fight in his professional career. He’ll be facing the Englishman Pickett on his home turf in Birmingham, England, but isn’t worried about either One-Punch’s home-field advantage or any negative effects from the long trip he took overseas – he’s prepared himself well for this bout and believes the best man will win.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any problem,” he said in reference to fighting in England. “I’ve been training so hard for this fight. When the cage is locked up, it’s just gonna be me and him there. Whoever’s more prepared is gonna win the fight.”
The Nova Uniao-trained prospect affirmed his respect for Pickett as an opponent and praised his all-around skills, but he believes that his thorough and dedicated preparation will carry him to victory over One-Punch on fight night.
“I have seen a few fights of Brad Pickett’s. I really respect that he’s very good at stand up, also takedowns,” Barao said. “But, I’m very prepared and I’m really looking forward to the fight. I trained really hard.”
UFC 138 goes down tomorrow at the LG Arena; FightLine will begin our live, ongoing coverage of the fight card beginning at 12:30pm ET.