LAS VEGAS | It's not that Eddie Wineland doesn't want a shot at a UFC title. He does.
It's just that the Westville-based bantamweight follows such a straight line of logical thought process about his prospects for a future championship fight that it borders on robotic.
In some ways, that's appropriate for his fighting style. Known as one of the best standup fighters in the UFC's 135-pound division, Wineland is not devoid of emotion when he's in the octagon – but he never gets too far up or down, either.
So when it comes to working his way back up the ladder, Wineland has a definite end game. If he keeps on the path, he's fairly confident a shot at a title will come with it.
Wineland (19-8-1 MMA, 1-2 UFC) meets Brad Pickett (22-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC) at today's UFC 155 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The heavy-handed fighters' bout has a coveted spot closing out the preliminary card on the FX cable network – a position the UFC gives to fights it believes will deliver and help sell some last-minute pay-per-views for the main card that follows.
The Wineland-Pickett winner will put himself in position for consideration for a shot at the winner of interim champion Renan Barao and top contender Michael McDonald, who in April knocked out East Chicago native Miguel Torres.
But Wineland brings a workmanlike approach to fighting – he shows up, he gets paid, if he does really well, he gets a bonus, and he comes back home and goes back to training and his day job as a firefighter.
"In the end, that's what it's about – more money is always better," said Wineland, who was the first bantamweight champ in WEC history years before he moved to the UFC. "Obviously, I'm going for the win. But the faster I can finish the fight, the more money I make. I can make 'X' amount of dollars in 15 minutes, or I can make 'X' amount of dollars in 45 seconds. That's just the way I see it. So I'm going for the win before 'Fight of the Night.' If I can get it done and over with in a hurry, I'm going to get it done and over with."
In June, he survived one of the nastiest cuts in recent memory in a slugfest with Scott Jorgensen, then knocked him silly in the second round. That win snapped a two-fight skid for Wineland and gave him his first win in the UFC.
It also earned him continued stiff tests in the bantamweight division, where, in Pickett, he will face his fourth straight Top 10 opponent. That's where the title shot potential comes in. Keep handing Wineland opponents, and if he keeps beating them, he won't have to worry about when a title shot will come. Ultimately, he wants to keep getting his hand raised and be the last man standing.
"The end game is money, and with the title comes money," he said. "I keep winning, I get the title shot and money."
Pickett, from England, has won two straight fights – including a vicious knockout of Yves Jabouin in his home country in September that was befitting of his "One Punch" nickname.
Pickett is a style of fighter Wineland believes he has seen before, and he believes he can handle.
"It's similar preparation (to Jorgensen)," Wineland said. "Pickett's got the same fighting style as I do. He's in your face. But I've fought people like that before. People don't realize that when they get in there and feel my power and my strength and I grab ahold of them, everything changes. I think I'm going to be able to push the pace on Pickett and be the one in his face as opposed to him pressing on me.
"If I keep things technical, I think it's in my favor. Brawling's in my favor, as well, because I have a good chin and I've got a hard punch. But wherever it goes. I like to keep it technical because if I do, it means I'm probably going to get hurt less. That being said, me being hurt doesn't bother me. You keep going."
That's just what Wineland plans on doing: keep going, right to that eventual title shot.