Interim UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao wanted to face Dominick Cruz to unify the UFC titles. However, a second knee operation will keep Cruz sidelined and will push Barao into a fight.

The opponent for the Brazilian is likely to be Michael McDonald. Nothing has been made official by the UFC, but it appears the two could meet in early 2013 – which is fine by Barao.

“My goal was to fight (Cruz) because I wanted to unify the belts, but unfortunately he isn’t in any condition for that,” said Barao, in an interview with MMAjunkie.com. “I already had it in my mind that I could fight McDonald. He’s coming off of good wins and good knockouts. It makes sense.”

Barao (29-1) has not lost since his MMA debut, including a win over Urijah Faber earlier this year to claim the interim title. McDonald (15-1) is a perfect 4-0 inside the Octagon, but has been out of action with a hand injury.

“I really wanted to fight Cruz, but this injury doesn’t affect me in any way,” Barao said. “I’m here to fight anyone; I will always give it my best.”

Photo credit: MMAFighting