MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

Underdog Wineland feeling no pressure for UFC title fight

2013-04-10T18:45:00Z 2014-06-13T20:30:20Z Underdog Wineland feeling no pressure for UFC title fightMatt Erickson Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 10, 2013 6:45 pm  • 

Eddie Wineland is two months away from the biggest fight of his career. No pressure or anything.

On Saturday, Wineland was doing in-cage interviews at Hoosier Fight Club 15. A few days later, he was jetted off to Canada to promote his next fight. For the Westville-based Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight, the "no pressure" is legit.

Wineland (20-8-1, 2-2 UFC) on June 15 will meet Renan Barao (30-1, 5-0 UFC) for Barao's interim bantamweight title in the main event of UFC 161.

It will be Wineland's first time headlining a UFC show, which will be a pay-per-view at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

And he'll get to do it with a belt on the line – a title he once held when he was the first 135-pound champ in World Extreme Cagefighting history in 2006.

The WEC eventually was purchased by Zuffa, the UFC's parent company, and then merged with the bigger promotion – which from a lineage standpoint makes Wineland's first WEC bantamweight title the one he's fighting to reclaim in June.

"There's no added pressure – it's for a belt and it's 25 minutes," Wineland on Wednesday said at a news conference in Winnipeg to promote tickets going on sale for the event. "Every fight, I can fight for 25 minutes. The conditioning is going to be in my favor. There's no pressure, and I train better when there's no pressure."

Training at a combination of New Breed Jiu-Jitsu in Chicago, Duneland Vale Tudo in Hobart and Applied Strength and Conditioning in Chesterton, Wineland said he's doing everything the same to prepare for Barao that he did in his past two fights, which were upset wins over Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett.

The fight against Barao will be the fifth straight UFC fight for Wineland that he'll be the underdog.

Oddsmakers made Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez the favorites against him, and they walked away with unanimous decisions in 2011. But Wineland turned things around in 2012 with a knockout win over Jorgensen that earned him a $40,000 bonus check for "Fight of the Night."

Then he outboxed Picket in December to earn his shot at Barao, who holds the interim title while champion Dominick Cruz is sidelined after back-to-back knee surgeries.

Barao hasn't lost in 31 straight fights, going 30-0-1 in that stretch. But Wineland still believes he has the edge.

"This is no different than any other fight," he said. "We're training just like we normally train – but just a little more grappling and we're going to push a little harder. Obviously it's a 25-minute fight. Not that I expect it to go 25 minutes, but we'll be ready for it.

"I think I'm stronger, I think I'm faster, I think I hit harder, I think I'm the better wrestler. And on June 15, we're going to find out who has the advantage."

One of the reasons Wineland believes that advantage will go to him is that Barao may be on a legendary win streak, may have the title and may be the favorite, but Wineland says he's never fought the likes of him before.

Where Wineland, known as arguably the hardest hitter and one of the best boxers in the bantamweight division, thinks he has the edge where fighters like Michael McDonald and Faber before him didn't have is that he'll be in Barao's face.

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