Wineland has been finished four times in a 29-fight career with three of the stoppages coming by way of submission. Likewise, Barao has fourteen tap-outs to his credit in comparison to six TKOs. Based on numbers alone it is clear Wineland has to be wary of time spent on his back. He needs to be ready to stuff every takedown attempt Barao throws his way. Doing so could very well make the difference between having a chance at winning and going to sleep. Barao’s speed is uncanny and has left opponents like Urijah Faber, Brad Pickett, and Michael McDonald guessing at what’s to come. Wineland needs to neutralize the Brazilian’s quickness by clinching with him against the cage, attacking his body, and showing Barao they teach leg kicks outside of Nova Uniao too. Bringing Barao down a few notches when it comes to fastness will be a tough task to accomplish, but then again so is beating an adversary as brilliant as the 26-year old title-holder in general. It might be a cheap tactic, but Wineland needs to pull out all the stops if seeking success against Barao. That means using elbows as often as possible. He isn’t likely to finish Barao with such strikes, but he can still bring about the tilt’s end by opening up a notable gash or two. Also, how Barao reacts to adversity is still unknown, and seeing his own blood could cause a major shift in how the pairing plays out. A lot of people don’t believe Wineland deserves a title-shot. Though the odds are against him, Wineland is also fortunate because there isn’t a lot pressure to succeed. With little to lose, he can go for broke and at minimum exit the effort with respect from a whole new contingent of fans. Attacking aggressively could also create an opportunity to land a sequence of strikes setting up a TKO win. Barao’s chin is good but it’s still made out of flesh and blood. Even though Wineland doesn’t want to be on the mat with Barao it could be a necessary tactic at certain points in their tilt. If Wineland is able to take Barao down in the final minute of a few rounds he might be able to take advantage of the shoddy state of MMA judging. In general, fighters who are on top at the end of a round tend to see the frame scored in their favor, so keeping things close and producing some takedowns could be enough to get Wineland the win.
There haven’t been much bigger underdogs than
UFC bantamweight Eddie Wineland when it comes to a top contenders taking on a champion, as he is tonight at in the form of a fight against UFC 165 Renan Barao, but that doesn’t mean the 29-year old’s defeat is a foregone conclusion. Rather, as anyone who follows MMA understands, a fight is still a fight and even the biggest favorites have fallen against unlikely victors. Wineland can certainly follow suit with a little luck and a lot of technique. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)