Barao submits McDonald to defend interim title
LONDON, England - Renan Barao used fourth-round submission against Michael McDonald to win his 30th consecutive professional fight and retain his UFC interim bantamweight championship.
The bout served as the headlining matchup of Saturday's "UFC on FUEL TV 7: Barao vs. McDonald" event, which took place at London's Wembley Arena.
The 22-year-old McDonald moved forward at the opening bell with his trademark power punches, but Barao evaded well throughout the round and countered with well-timed takedowns.
As the fight wore on, McDonald seemed to settle into a rhythm and improve the timing of his takedown defence. His best moment came in the closing moments of the second round, when he caught a Barao kick and delivered a counter right that saw the Brazilian briefly stagger before regaining his senses.
As the third round opened, Barao (30-1) continued to engage in risky striking exchanges, but his timing seemed just a step better than McDonald (15-2), who appeared to be looking to land one big power shot rather than setting up his shots with combinations.
Barao punctuated the round by bloodying the challenger's nose with a straight right hand and slick spinning kick to the face.
With McDonald seemingly behind on the cards entering the championship rounds, he continued to wing power shots and look for a dramatic finish. However, Barao earned an impressive takedown and moved to McDonald's back before transitioning into a deep arm-triangle choke. McDonald briefly looked comfortable in the hold, even offering a thumbs-up signal, but Barao stuck with the hold and earned the tap at the 3:57 mark of the fourth round.
With his first title defence done, Barao is now expected to face Dominick Cruz this summer, provided the linear champion's knee continues to heal on schedule.
In the night's co-feature, featherweight contender Cub Swanson (19-5) earned his fourth-consecutive win by taking a unanimous-decision victory over Dustin Poirier (13-3).
Swanson was the quicker fighter from the opening bell, using crisp boxing and quick footwork to pepper his opponent with rapid-fire punches and avoiding a handful of Poirier takedown attempts. Swanson verbally punctuated each strike and racked up points while digging shots to the body and scoring with a few well-placed lead uppercuts.
Poirier continued to press forward throughout the 15-minute affair, but Swanson retreated well and countered at every opportunity, racking up points along the way.
Poirier never looked in danger of being finished but also struggled to find an answer for his opponent. Swanson was awarded the win with scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.