Eddie Wineland may not be a mainstream name, but that may change in the near future. The Midwest fighter is set to fight Urijah Faber in the co-main event of UFC 128. The result of this match could have title implications in the bantamweight division.
“I was full of joy,” said Wineland when he found out he was fighting Faber. “That’s exactly what I wanted. I didn’t ask for Urijah specifically, but I made it well aware that I was in the hunt for the title and whatever will make me come that much closer is the fight I wanted. That’s exactly who they gave me and I’m grateful for it.”
Wineland went undefeated in 2010, quietly compiling four wins in a row with notable victories over Manny Tapia and George Roop. The former WEC bantamweight champion looks to make a statement this year.
“I feel like it’s my time. I had my time before and unfortunately I didn’t have a real good run at it. Right now I’m on a tear. I’m really looking forward to it, the timing is just right.”
Although this will be the first time Wineland and Faber meet in the cage, the two fighters have met many times in the past and he considers the “California Kid” a friend.
“I first met Urijah when I won the belt in 2006. I got a chance to hang out with him. I thought he was a really cool dude. We’ve been in touch; we talk here and there. When I see him at the fights we hang out and have a good time. At the end of the day, when we get in that cage, we’re not going to be buddies for 15 minutes. One guy is going to win and one guy is going to lose. I’m sure after the fight we’ll be better friends.”
In addition to added pay-per-view exposure, the upcoming fight will be Wineland’s UFC debut.
“It is a special fight because it’s the UFC and the co-main event. It’s what people dream of. I’m living the dream, it’s so surreal, and I can’t wait.
“I’m not out seeking fame. Fortunately that’s what comes with the territory. You get your face on PPV television and people start recognizing you. I’m there for the competition side of it; I’m a fighter. I’ve always been a competitive person.”
After failing to recapture the WEC featherweight belt from Jose Aldo, Faber dropped down to bantamweight to campaign for a title there. Faber made his 135-pound debut against the always-tough Takeya Mizugaki at WEC 52 and impressed the fans with a first-round submission victory over his Japanese counterpart.
“His hands have improved immensely. He’s obviously a wrestler by base and his wrestling is stellar. His ground game is great; he creates a lot of scrambles. He’s fast, he’s explosive, and he’s a great fighter. It’s exactly what I’m looking for. I’m looking for someone of that caliber.
“I believe I possess the capabilities of beating Urijah,” added Wineland. “I think I’m a dangerous wrestler. I might not be the best wrestler, but I can wrestle with just about anybody. I’m known for my hands, so my hands are very good. I hit hard. I think I’ve got all the tools to beat Urijah. I want what he wants and he wants what I want. I think it’s going to be a fun fight.”
The fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, premiering this fall, will feature featherweights and bantamweights. There has been speculation that the coaches would be bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. A win over Faber could upset those plans and put Wineland at the top of the list for potential coaches.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to it in any way. I think it would be a great experience. I think it would be a great way to expand my skill set as well. I seem to learn more from teaching people than being taught. I think it would be a great opportunity and I wouldn’t pass it up.”
With Cruz temporarily shelved, recovering from an injury, the winner between Wineland and Faber could determine the champ’s next contender.
“I think that this fight is such a high profile fight that it should determine the number one contender,” commented Wineland. “Whether it will or not, I don’t know. It all comes down to what Dana White and the head guys at UFC say.”
Eddie Wineland has worked his way out of the Midwest circuit and into the spotlight of the UFC. In a battle between former WEC champions, Wineland looks to capitalize on arguably the biggest fight of his career.
“I’m here to make waves and I’m here to show everybody exactly what I’m made of. Fighting Urijah Faber and beating Urijah Faber is going to do just that. After this win, it’s going to create a lot of waves; I think it’s going to put fear in a lot of people’s eyes.”