MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

Wineland closes WEC career with a bang

2010-12-18T21:15:00Z 2010-12-19T03:21:53Z Wineland closes WEC career with a bangBy Matt Erickson Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 18, 2010 9:15 pm  • 

Eddie Wineland said before his fight against Ken Stone that he didn't care about post-fight bonus awards -- a win was the most important thing.

But as it turns out, it sure is nice to have both.

Chesterton's Wineland delivered one of the biggest knockouts of the year on Thursday with a power slam that instantly knocked out his opponent. The win gave him four straight -- and also gave him his second-straight Knockout of the Night bonus award, a $10,000 check as a way to close out his WEC career before moving into the UFC.

"It's just awesome to think about -- another highlight reel knockout," Wineland said Saturday. "Especially being in the last WEC. I started off my WEC career with a knockout and it's nice to be able to end it with a knockout, too."

Though Wineland (18-6-1, 5-2 WEC) was quick to celebrate, his emotions turned quickly when he realized Stone was still out and the ringside doctors were calling for a stretcher.

"When I first started celebrating and I turned back around and he still wasn't moving, it was a genuine concern at that moment," Wineland said. "I was concerned for his safety. Once I got back in the locker room and they said he was conscious and moving around in the ambulance, at that point it was like, 'Oh, man, I might have won another $10 grand.'"

Wineland, a former bantamweight champ and the first 135-pound title holder in WEC history, was originally scheduled to face Damacio Page, a fellow Top 10 bantamweight, at WEC 52 last month. But a shoulder injury forced him out of that fight. He was offered Stone for Thursday's WEC swan song in Phoenix and took it -- though he said it was a risky fight.

"It was one of those fights, when I took it I wondered, 'Does this really move me forward? If I lose, I lose everything,'" Wineland said. "I really had a lot riding on the fight. But a win is a win, and if I keep winning it's pushing me forward."

A new era of Wineland's career begins now in the UFC, which means more exposure. He said he'll fight whomever the UFC puts in front of him next, but he knows beating bantamweights in the Top 10 will get him a potential title shot quicker.

"I need to fight the top-tier guys to get in that No. 1 spot," Wineland said. "There's a lot of guys out there, and it's whoever is going to push me into that No. 1 contender's spot. You've got (Joseph) Benavidez, you've got (Brian) Bowles who hasn't fought in a while. The Kid Yamamoto-Demetrious Johnson fight is going to put people up into that top-tier spot. Any one of the guys in the Top 10, there's a possibility of them taking the title."

Now that he's firmly cemented in the Top 10 of most bantamweight ranking lists, Wineland hopes he's the guy to do just that.

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