Mike Easton in for Renan Barao, Meets Ivan Menjivar at UFC 148

Ivan Menjivar

Bantamweights booked for July 7 card in Las Vegas

With Renan Barao moving on to bigger and better things at UFC 148, Ivan Menjivar now has a new opponent.

The bantamweight, who was scheduled to fight Barao on the summer card, now will meet Mike Easton instead. The UFC announced the recent change, which was the result of Barao being moved into an interim title fight in the co-main event against Urijah Faber.

UFC 148 takes place July 7 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and features a middleweight title fight main event between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. The original co-main event was expected to be a bantamweight title fight between champion Dominick Cruz and Faber, who currently are coaching opposite each other on the inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter LIVE.” But Cruz recently tore his ACL, which will keep him on the shelf for a while. Faber waited about 10 days before finding out Friday that he would face Barao, who had been scheduled to fight Menjivar on the same card, for the interim title.

Menjivar (24-8, 3-1 UFC) has been perfect since returning to the UFC after the WEC merger. Menjivar first fought for the promotion at UFC 48 in June 2004, suffering a decision loss at lightweight to future welterweight champion Matt Serra. After a loss to Brad Pickett in the final WEC event in December 2010, Menjivar picked up a first-round TKO against Charlie Valencia, outpointed Nick Pace at UFC 133 (though he came in heavy and fought at a catch weight) and got a Submission of the Night win over John Albert at UFC on Fuel TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger in February.

Easton (12-1, 2-0 UFC) was scheduled to face Yves Jabouin at last week’s UFC on Fuel TV 3 card in Fairfax, Va., near his home of Washington, D.C., but was forced out with an injury. Easton made his UFC debut in October after a two-year break from competition and picked up a second-round TKO win over Byron Bloodworth in front of his home D.C. fans at UFC on Versus 6. In January at UFC on FX: Guillard vs. Miller, he won a majority decision against Jared Papazian.

Barao (28-1, 1 NC, 3-0 UFC) is on one of the most impressive winning streaks in MMA history. The Brazilian has not lost since his first pro fight, a split decision setback in April 2005. Since then, he has gone 29 fights without a loss – 28 wins and one no contest. Barao joined the WEC in 2010, winning his first two fights there by submission before joining the UFC in the merger of the two promotions. In the UFC, Barao has gone 3-0 with decision wins over Cole Escovedo and Scott Jorgensen and a first-round submission of Brad Pickett at UFC 138.