Eddie Wineland is a fighter I’ve underrated for a while. Wineland had landed 35 significant strikes in 30 minutes against Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez, and that just didn’t impress me for a fighter who’s supposed to be a striker. Combine that with Wineland having a questionable ground game and the result, to me, was a fighter who was average at best in the division. Obviously that was poor analysis, because it was cherry-picking Wineland’s worst performances against his toughest competition.
Faber and Benavidez are both elite fighters in their respective divisions. When Wineland faced Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett, I expected him to struggle… but he did the opposite of that. Wineland looked terrific in both fights, knocking out Jorgensen and doing everything but knocking out Pickett. Somehow the Pickett fight went to split decision, which is just one example of why MMA judges cannot be trusted for anything.
Wineland has earned a shot at Renan Barao’s interim title for his efforts. While I freely admit that I’ve been wrong about Wineland, I also have to wonder if he’s really done enough to earn this opportunity. Jorgensen and Pickett have both hung around the top ten of the bantamweight division for years, but neither has really looked good in recent fights. Pickett’s recent wins: Mike Easton, Yves Jabouin, and Damacio Page. Jorgensen’s recent wins: John Albert, Jeff Curran, and Ken Stone. It seems their ranking is based more on reputation than on actual performances or accomplishments.
Now, Wineland seems like a nice guy, and I’m happy for him that he’s getting this opportunity. It’s nothing personal… but how is he going to beat Renan Barao?
As skilled as Wineland is on the feet, he’s taken about as many strikes as he’s landed (397-393). It’s still a good exchange for Wineland because he has great knockout power for the division, but Wineland probably needs that knockout to win, because otherwise, Barao is the superior striker. Barao lands strikes more often than Wineland (3.58 per minute for Barao, 3.25 for Wineland), doesn’t absorb as many strikes (2.35 – 3.22), and lands strikes at a higher accuracy (35% – 29%). Barao also does not have a history of being knocked down or even visibly hurt by strikes.
Barao and Wineland share three common opponents: Faber, Jorgensen, and Pickett. Against that trio, Wineland landed 162 significant strikes and absorbed 164. Barao landed 226 strikes and absorbed 143. Every metric points to Barao being the superior striker… except in terms of raw knockout power.
It’s a bad sign for a striker like Wineland, who has very little chance of mixing in a takedown or changing the dynamics of the fight in some way. It all adds up to Wineland having a “puncher’s chance” of beating Barao.
Pick: Renan Barao by submission