TORONTO – Eddie Wineland said he was not finished when referee Yves Lavigne jumped in to save him during his fight with interim UFC bantamweight champ Renan Barao.
Barao landed a spinning back kick to Wineland’s jaw that knocked him onto the mat, and subsequent punches appeared to be academic. Wineland, though, said he disagreed with the stoppage.
“Personal opinion – I think bulls–t,” the 29-year-old fighter said following the co-main event of UFC 165, which took place at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. “He caught me with a great kick. I was by no means out. I was on my way back up, but the referees have their own discretion, and that’s what he felt was the right call. My hat’s off to Renan. It was a good kick.”
In addition to extending his eight-year run without a loss, Barao became just the third fighter in the UFC to finish an opponent with a spinning back-kick. Onetime middleweight title challenger David Loiseau did against Charles McCarthy, and Dennis Siver finished Paul Taylor.
Wineland availed himself well in the first round of the title fight, which served as the second defense of Barao’s title. The champ appeared to have difficulty setting his range. But in the second round, he made an adjustment, and Wineland (20-9-1 MMA, 2-3 UFC) helped out.
The full-time fireman was ducking down just as Barao (31-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) launched the kick that floored him.
“It’s one of those tough calls,” UFC President Dana White said when asked whether the stoppage was premature. “Trust me, I don’t like it when fights are stopped and the guy jumps right up, but he got blasted with that kick, and that’s a nasty kick that knocks people out, and he looked wobbly when he got up. If I thought it was, I’d be smashing the ref. But that was a tough one.”
Wineland had won his past two fights, knocking out Scott Jorgensen and outpointing Brad Pickett before getting a title shot. A champ in the now-defunct WEC, he is 2-3 in the UFC.
Despite the setback, Wineland said he did take some positives from the fight.
“Barao is one of the best in the world,” he said. “As Dana said, he’s a beast. I think that showed me that I belong in there with some of the best in the world, and I’m right in the place where I need to be. It’s a confidence booster being in there with somebody who’s No. 1 in your weight class, and possibly winning the first round.”
All three judges in the fight scored the first round in Wineland’s favor.
For complete coverage of UFC 165, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
John Morgan, Ben Fowlkes and Mike Bohn contributed to this report on-site in Toronto.