As one of just three fighters in MMA to have shared the octagon with both Renan Barao and Urijah Faber, UFC bantamweight contender Eddie Wineland has a good feel of what both men have to offer.
Wineland was the victim of a highlight-reel knockout from Barao at UFC 165 this past September, while he lost a narrow decision to “The California Kid” in his UFC debut at UFC 128 in March 2011.
With the experience of being bested by both men’s skill sets, Wineland can gauge how his former foes match up against one another.
Even though Barao is favored to win tonight’s UFC 169 main event against Faber, which takes place at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Wineland says he smells an upset in the air.
It is a significant matchup for the future of the UFC bantamweight division, which means Wineland has a vested interest in the outcome as he believes a few more strong performances against the division’s “top guys” will get him back in the conversation for another championship fight.
With the UFC 169 headliner featuring Barao (31-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) and Faber (30-6 MMA, 6-2 UFC) just hours away, Wineland breaks down all the major aspects of the matchup and shares who he believes will leave “The Garden State” with UFC gold.
I think if Faber presses forward and doesn’t let him get his kicks off, he’ll win the striking. I think that’s where I made my mistake against Barao. I planted my feet and I let him spin and I gave him the distance to throw those kicks. If Faber presses the issue and is either all in or all out, it’s going to nullify Barao’s kicks.
I think Faber on paper is a better wrestler, but MMA-wise the whole wrestling changes. It doesn’t so much go out the window, but when you start adding punches and kicks and elbow and knees – wrestling changes. Barao’s MMA wrestling is phenomenal. He hasn’t been taken down in the UFC. I think it is possible for Faber to take him down, but I think it’s going to be extremely hard and he’ll have a hard time holding him there.
Short Notice for Faber
I don’t think it’s going to effect him very much. I think Urijah is a guy who is always training. I think he’s always ready for a fight and I think he knew this was probably a possibility. It only makes sense. He got four wins in a row, and if for some reason someone got hurt in this title fight, he should be the next one. I think he knew that was a possibility and he was ready for it.
I think Faber [has the x-factor]. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I agree with Dana White that he’s in that Vitor Belfort zone where he’s getting older, but he’s getting better. His last couple fights, you look at [Michael] McDonald, he’s ranked No. 3 right now. He just ran right through like McDonald didn’t even matter. He just ran right through him, and that was a big statement. He’s supposed to be No. 3 in the world and he made him look like he doesn’t belong there. That means a lot.
I think Faber is going to win by decision.
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(Pictured: Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland)