COMMENTARY | Amid the Aldo-Edgar aftermath, the inaugural women's UFC title fight, and a spinning back kick for the ages comes the UFC's seventh event on Fuel TV. Oh yeah, and it's a title fight.
Despite the relatively small amount of attention this event has received, UFC on Fuel TV 7, which takes place Feb. 16 in London, features a thrilling collection of finishers, headlined by the matchup between Renan Barao and Michael McDonald for the interim bantamweight belt.
Barao comes into his first title defense with a staggering 29-1-1 record, including 13 submissions and an unbeaten streak dating back to his very first professional fight on April 14, 2005.
The Brazilian claimed the interim bantamweight title at UFC 149 last July with a convincing victory over Urijah Faber. Barao employed vicious leg kicks to dispatch the former WEC champion by unanimous decision.
UFC president Dana White took notice.
"Everyone knows how good Faber is, and Barao dominated him tonight," White said during the UFC 149 post-fight press conference.
McDonald, meanwhile, brings a 15-1 record and nine knockouts into his meeting with Barao. Only two of his wins went the distance.
"I hope that really solidifies me in people's minds, that I'm here, I'm here to stay, and I'm here to hit hard," McDonald said after knocking out Miguel Torres at UFC 145.
Both McDonald and Barao are dynamic on the ground and on their feet, and each boasts a respectable collection of wins over the division's elite -- names like Faber, Torres, Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett.
But that's just the title fight at UFC on Fuel TV 7. In fact, of the 12 participants in the six main-card bouts, every fighter is coming off a win, with only two of them by decision.
The card is loaded with intrigue as the resurgent and heavy-handed Cub Swanson meets Dustin Poirier, Jimi Manuwa fights Cyrille Diabate, Gunnar Nelson fights Jorge Santiago, James Te Huna squares off with Ryan Jimmo, and Matt Riddle meets Che Mills.
Swanson is on a three-fight winning streak. The featherweight's last three victims include Charles Oliveira via knockout at UFC 152, Ross Pearson via technical knockout at UFC on FX 4, and George Roop via TKO at UFC on Fox 2.
Swanson's opponent, Poirier, most recently submitted Jonathan Brookins during their fight at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale in December.
Most of the other fighters on the main card claimed stoppage victories in their last trip to the octagon. Jimmo even tied the record for fastest knockout in UFC history after his punch at UFC 149 floored Anthony Perosh seven seconds into their bout.
Te Huna and Riddle are the only two on the main card coming off decision victories, but that doesn't mean they should be underestimated.
Are these guys household names? Not yet.
Are their fights going to be highlight-reel material? It's likely.
So while other UFC storylines receive more attention, could Barao, McDonald, and the lineup of combatants preparing for UFC on Fuel TV 7 get just a little respect?
Either way, you can bet they'll earn it.
Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald (for interim bantamweight title)
Dustin Poirier vs. Cub Swanson
Cyrille Diabate vs. Jimi Manuwa
Gunnar Nelson vs. Jorge Santiago
Ryan Jimmo vs. James Te Huna
Che Mills vs. Matthew Riddle
Terry Etim vs. Renee Forte
Danny Castillo vs. Paul Sass
Josh Grispi vs. Andy Ogle
Stanislav Nedkov vs. Tom Watson
Vaughan Lee vs. Motonobu Tezuk
Ulysses Gomez vs. Phil Harris
Paul Putignano lives in Southern California, where he has covered mixed martial arts and a wide array of sports across the Greater Los Angeles area. His work has been published in a variety of newspapers and online publications.