Coach guarantees: “Renan has a lot of BJJ to show in the UFC”

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Renan Barão attacks Brad Pickett from the back at UFC 138. UFC publicity photo.

Renan Barão won the UFC interim bantamweight belt in the main event at UFC 149 last July. In doing so, the black belt in Jiu-Jitsu from team Nova União went to town on Urijah Faber with low kicks knees and combinations of punches. Quite like his teammate José Aldo, who also managed to outpoint the “California Kid” without needing to go to the ground.

But what’s the story on Renan Barão’s Jiu-Jitsu? What is he capable of on the ground?

To find out more about one of the main ingredients in Barão’s game, we had a chat with his Jiu-Jitsu coach, Jair Lourenço.

Even though he’s already the interim bantamweight champion of the UFC, Renan Barão hasn’t shown his potential on the ground yet, has he?

He certainly hasn’t. I feel Barão still has a lot to show on the ground. But when the need arises he’ll show it; you can be sure of that. Grappling is what Barão practices most. And it’s worth keeping in mind that Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling are the styles he’s competed in the most to this day—even more than boxing and kickboxing. To paint you a picture, Renan practices Jiu-Jitsu every day; he’s an expert in taking the back and not letting positions get away.

Renan has had 31 MMA fights, with 29 wins and only one loss, on his MMA debut. In which of them did he show his best Jiu-Jitsu, in your opinion?

In the international scene, I’d say it was his WEC debut, against Anthony Leone in 2010. At a certain point he ended up on bottom, where he pulled off a slick hook sweep. When he was on top, he did a transition to armbar that ended the fight. But he also got a good submission in his second WEC fight, tapping out Chris Cariaso with a rear-naked choke.

What kind of results did he have in Jiu-Jitsu, “before he became famous”?

He competed a lot at light featherweight and featherweight, and even being so light he won some tournaments at weight and open weight. What not a lot of people know is that, even in the WEC and pretty much hired by the UFC, he made a point of competing at the 2010 Jiu-Jitsu State Championship. He had a tough final in the featherweight brown belt division against a tough athlete from Mossoró, Izaías, who won a bunch of tournaments in 2009. Even last year Barão competed in the gi; he won the Kimura ZN Jiu-Jitsu cup.

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