• UFC 143

Barao 'could be the real deal' - Pickett

ESPN staff
February 3, 2012

Renan Barao heads into a fight at UFC 143 that could earn him a future shot at bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, and Brad Pickett admits the Brazilian could be the man to take the gold.

Barao meets the teak-tough Scott Jorgensen this weekend, looking to build on his impressive last outing - against Pickett. The Brazilian silenced the home crowd when he stopped Pickett at UFC 138, extending his unbeaten run to 28 fights.

The current standard bearer at 135lbs is Cruz, who is about to embark on a TUF series where he will coach a rival team against Urijah Faber. Cruz and Faber will then meet for the belt at the climax of the series.

Should Cruz win, Barao is positioning himself as the No. 1 contender, something he can confirm by beating Jorgensen. And in Pickett's eyes, there could be something very special about the Brazilian.

"I've got nothing personal against Barao, he did well on the night to beat me," Pickett told ESPN. "He's got a tough fight against Scott Jorgensen next so that'll be interesting - I've fought both guys.

"I didn't get enough time to see how good he is - it's hard to say whether he can beat Cruz. I got caught with a shot and that's the nature of this sport. [But] Barao could be the real deal."

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