Renan Barao is undoubtedly frustrated by his current situation. Dominick Cruz’s two-year absence from competition gave Barao the opportunity to step in and take the belt, but until Cruz returns, Barao will have to settle for the “interim” asterisk.
Last week, Barao’s coach Andre Pederneiras stated that his fighter is losing money because of this, as many sponsors in Brazil aren’t interested in an interim champion.
UFC president Dana White disagrees, though.
“He’s losing money because they’re not doing a good enough job promoting him,” White said at a recent UFC 168 press conference. “That’s why they’re losing big money. They’re losing money because he isn’t out there trying get sponsors hard enough. [Barao’s] out there beating all the guys. I love Andre Pederneiras – we go way back. But Andre Pederneiras, some of the things he says are a little out there and a little crazy. It’s not because he’s the interim champion that he’s not getting sponsors.
“It has nothing to do with him being the interim champion. Some guys are just harder to promote. Look at Chuck Liddell. It took Chuck Liddell a long time before he broke through, and look at what a huge star he became. Sometimes it just takes time. Renan Barao doesn’t have the most explosive, dynamic personality.”
In terms of that “dynamic personality,” White stated that there are some fighters who can just instantly connect with fans. In particular, he pointed towards Conor McGregor as an example of a fighter who hasn’t spent a lot of time in the UFC, but is already a fan favorite.
“If you look at a guy like Conor McGregor, the guy’s had two fights in the UFC and everyone around the world knows who he is,” White said. “He’s got this thing about him, this persona. Renan Barao might not have that explosive, dynamic personality, but that dude is amazing when he steps in the octagon. He’s an incredible athlete, and now he fights to finish. He hasn’t lost in over eight years. Renan Barao will get his due some day.”
Barao, Cruz, and White are all hopeful for a title unification bout in early 2014. With any luck, Renan Barao might finally get the recognition he deserves from sponsors then.