UFC planning to have Renan Barao defend interim title against Michael McDonald

With UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz on the sideline for an additional six to nine months because of another ACL surgery, the UFC is planning to have interim champion Renan Barao defend the title against Michael McDonald.

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During Tuesday night’s “UFC Tonight” on FUEL TV, Ariel Helwani reported that UFC President Dana White told him that they plan to have Barao and MacDonald face in 2013 but a date has not been determined for the fight.

“I spoke to UFC President Dana White today and as a result of Cruz’s injury, he wants to keep Renan Barao busy in 2013,” Helwani reported on the weekly UFC news program. “So he says that the Barao vs. McDonald fight will happen next year. There is no date or event yet, but if McDonald wins the title against Barao, he will become the youngest champion in UFC history.”

Barao (29-1, 1NC) has said since winning the interim title that he planned to wait for Cruz to come back from injury. However, with Cruz out for a longer period of time, he will have to defend the interim title at least once before a potential unification bout with Cruz.

McDonald (15-1) has opened his UFC career with four straight victories since coming from the WEC. His only professional lost came in 2008 to Cole Escovedo, which he would later get a rematch and win the second fight. He has not seen in the octagon since UFC 145 in April, which was a knockout victory over former WEC champion Miguel Torres.

Once this interim title fight takes place, the winning fighter will likely wait for Cruz to return from his knee injury, which may not be until late 2013.