In the co-main event at UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson, the UFC Interim Bantamweight champion Renan Barao (30-1(1) MMA; 5-0 UFC) puts his title on the line against Eddie Wineland (20-8-1 MMA; 2-2 UFC). The official UFC rankings have Wineland as the #4 contender, while Barao sits on the Pound for Pound list at #7. UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson airs live on PPV this Saturday, September 21 with the main card starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
With regular UFC Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz now having sat on the shelf for two full years, it feel increasingly strange to call Barao the "Interim" champion. Here, Barao makes his 2nd defense of that interim belt. Interestingly, no Interim champion has ever made 2 defenses before being named the official champion. We'll see if that happens here, as the eventual return of Cruz is the big storyline at Bantamweight for now.
How do these two stack up?
Barao: 26 years old | 5'7" | 70" reach
Wineland: 29 years old | 5'7" | 69" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Barao has been on arguably the best run of any major active fighter. He's now undefeated in his last 31 fights, and has not lost since dropping his pro debut back in 2005. This Nova Uniao fighter has looked better and better inside the Octagon, and is coming off a very strong performance against McDonald. As you would expect from anyone at Nova Uniao, Barao is a dangerous fighter in all aspects, with a great ground game and brutal strikes, plus a brilliant ability to transition. He's a force.
Eddie Wineland first came to the UFC as apparent cannon fodder for Urijah Faber's debut. After going 0-2 inside the Octagon, he has really turned things around with huge wins over Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett. A veteran fighter, Wineland had a very good run in the WEC. He's been able to use his strength and solid punching ability to great success, but he's in a real tough fight here. A loss here probably locks him into a gatekeeper role for the immediate future.
Why should you care?
I love watching Barao in action, and Wineland should push the pace and make this an exciting clash.
More from Bloody Elbow:
- UFC 165 FS1 prelims preview & predictions
- Frankie Edgar looking at TUF 19 as a way back to a UFC title shot
- Former representative of Frank Trigg, Shonie Carter, others facing charges for alleged sexual abuse of 12 year old
- Floyd Mayweather and the WWE's Jim Ross are both talking about promoting MMA
- Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown confirmed for UFC on Fox 9