Renan Barao (30-1 1 NC, 5-0 UFC) vs. Eddie Wineland (20-8-1, 2-2 UFC)
The Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship is on the line in the co-main event of UFC 165 as Barao makes his second title defense against former WEC Bantamweight Champion Wineland. Barao has not lost since his first career fight as he has an amazing 31-fight unbeaten streak, which has seen his last five wins come in the UFC. He is coming off a successful title defense over Michael McDonald in February. Wineland gets a title shot on the heels of two solid wins despite being just 3-2 over his last five fights. He hasn’t fought in 2013 as he was last seen in the Octagon scoring a decision win over Brad Pickett at UFC 155 in December.
Fight Breakdown- Barao and Wineland finally meet after their scheduled bout in June was postponed due to an injury to Barao. With Barao now at 100-percent, he looks to defend the Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship for the second time. Barao lost his first professional fight in April 2005, but he has not been beaten since, and the only blemish on his record is a no contest in December 2007. In a span of 31 fights, Barao hasn’t been in a lot of trouble and he has established himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. After two wins in the WEC, Barao moved over to the UFC following the UFC/WEC merger, and he scored three straight wins to set himself up for a title fight. Wins over Cole Escovedo, Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgensen, coupled with an injury to UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, got Barao into a fight for the interim title against Urijah Faber. Barao was dominant in defeating Faber, and he then followed it with an impressive submission win over Michael McDonald at UFC On FUEL TV 7 in February. The black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu out of the Nova Uniao camp has scored 20 of his 30 wins by stoppage.
Wineland was the first-ever WEC Bantamweight Champion as he scored a first-round knockout of Antonio Banuelos at WEC 20 in May 2006. He never had a successful title defense as he lost it to Chase Beebe in his first defense in March 2007, and he was away from the WEC for nearly two years before he returned in April 2009. He lost to Rani Yahya in his WEC return, but then went on a hot streak, winning his next four fights. He capped out his WEC career with two ‘Knockout Of The Night’ wins when he defeated Will Campuzano and Ken Stone. When the WEC merged with the UFC, Wineland came over and was matched up with Urijah Faber in a number-one contender fight. Faber defeated Wineland, and then Wineland dropped his second straight fight to Joseph Benavidez. He seemed out of the title picture, but a knockout of Scott Jorgensen and a dominant decision win over Brad Pickett in his two 2012 fights earned him a title shot, and he looks to reclaim gold, but this time in the UFC. Wineland is a gritty fighter who likes to go for the finish, and 16 of his 20 wins have come by knockout or submission.
Barao is extremely talented- there is no doubt about that. This looks to be a tough fight for Wineland, but Wineland is a durable foe who never backs down from a fight. Barao is dynamic and good from everywhere. He has excellent striking, solid wrestling and an excellent ground game. His versatility on the feet is probably the best in the bantamweight division, and he mixes his strikes very well. He uses spinning attacks and fights at full pressure, and he is very good at finishing his explosive combinations with leg kicks that brutalize opponents. Wineland better be ready to check leg kicks in this fight because they are coming, and if he can’t check them, he is going to feel like Urijah Faber did after he fought Barao. Wineland is a power puncher who has good leg kicks of his own, and his kickboxing can be at times underrated. He is very tough to finish, and Faber and Joseph Benavidez couldn’t do it. While Wineland has been finished five times in his career, it has only happened once since 2004, and he has never been knocked out.
However, Barao is too quick and dynamic for Wineland, and his multi-faceted striking attack is gonna take its’ toll on Wineland at some point during this fight. Wineland needs to bring the attack to Barao as early as possible in this fight. Barao was rocked early in his fight against McDonald, but McDonald was unable to sustain the same punching attack later in the fight. Wineland hits just as hard as McDonald does, and he will need to put some extra power in his punches if he wants to finish Barao, who has a chin as good as anyone in the sport. Wineland may look to utilize his wrestling skill, but Barao has excellent takedown defense, and you may not wanna go to the ground with him. Barao can pull out a submission from out of nowhere and from any position. His ability to transition on the ground and create space are second-to-none and Wineland will need to use some muscle to keep Barao from making those slick transitions on the ground.
Wineland may look to bring a sprawl-and-brawl approach to the feet and try to land a right hand as Barao looks to shoot in for a takedown, but Barao is gonna set those takedowns up with jabs and leg kicks, and Wineland may not be ready for them when they come. Wineland has to land a punch and hope that Barao is overconfident coming into this fight. Barao has all the tools to win this fight, but he has expressed his desire to move up in weight classes. Perhaps the weight cut may be finally getting to him, and as he cuts more weight, the more it wears him down on fight day. He is a dynamic fighter, no doubt about it, and he should be able to dispatch Wineland here. It’s a matter of whether this goes the distance or there is a finish. Wineland is super tough and capable of landing a knockout punch, but Barao’s ground ability makes this a fight to watch as you will see some high-level kickboxing and ground work. It may take a while but Barao will find that submission after hurting Wineland on the feet. This is Barao’s fight to lose.
Why It Matters- This is a big title fight as while the winner is declared the Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion, that title could change to undisputed in the near future depending on the health of Dominick Cruz. At worst, the winner is likely to see Cruz across the Octagon the next time they step inside it. Barao wants to continue to establish himself as one of the sport’s pound-for-pound best fighters and keep his impressive unbeaten streak alive. Wineland would love to shock the world and score an unlikely upset, and it would rival Chris Weidman’s upset of Anderson Silva if it were to happen. A lot of factors have to fall in his favor, but this is the biggest fight of Wineland’s career, and you know he will act like it is.
Tags: Eddie Wineland, Mixed Martial Arts, renan barao, UFC, UFC 165