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Renan Barao Talks About His Upbringing and Journey to the UFC

February 6, 2013 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

MMAjunkie spoke with UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao. Barao will defend his title against Michael McDonald at UFC on Fuel TV 7 on February 16. Here are some highlights:

Barao on being excited to buy his mother a house: “I was super excited to be able to give her a house. That was a dream to be able to provide her a better life and to be able to get her out of renting. She worked so hard for me. Buying her a house was a dream that came true. Thankfully, now I’m able to help provide a better life for her.”

Barao on getting help as a youth from his father who was a boxing coach: “He was already a boxing coach, and I was one of those kids that was kind of naughty. A lot of people told my dad what I was doing, so decided to start training and spend all that energy that was bottled up inside me on training instead of the streets…I could feel the adrenaline, and I knew this is what I wanted for my life. Now here I am.”

Barao on his impressive win streak culminating in his UFC title win: “It’s amazing. It was the result of a lot of hard work. I’ve been working toward this for 13 years, and then we made it happen, and I thank God for that. Still, I keep myself grounded. I’m constantly training. I’m training even harder now than before when I first started. It’s a dream come true that people are acknowledging my work, asking me to take pictures and getting to know me. It’s especially great in my hometown, where everyone calls me ‘champion.’ It’s just pure happiness, pure joy.”

Barao on living in his hometown of Natal: “I can’t leave. I love the neighborhood. I walk around barefoot and shirtless and sit on the sidewalk and talk to friends. I feel great there, and I like the energy there. As long as I’m feeling good, there’s no reason to leave.”

Barao on training with Nova Uniao: “We feel like family. I spent Christmas and New Year’s away from my family, but I was with my Nova Uniao family. We do everything together. There’s like 10 of us that all live in the same apartment in Rio. We get home sick, but we all have the same goal, and we know this experience makes us stronger and stronger. I think this harmony is what got us this far, and I think that’s been essential in my career.”

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Jeffrey Harris
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