While bantamweight up-and-comer Eric Winston was able to rebound off the only loss of his career last year and win three straight fights, 2013 proved bittersweet for him.
As Winston told MMAWeekly.com, any highs he reached with his wins were quickly tempered by spending much of the rest of the year on the shelf with an injury.
“I was able to get three wins, and the goal was to fight every two to three months and just keep building my record, but unfortunately I got injured and wasn’t able to keep that up,” said Winston. “So it was kind of a win/lose thing for me.
“I feel I kind of wasted half a year just with surgery and rehab and all that stuff when really I could have fought once or twice more.”
Still, with his move down to 135 pounds and with five wins in six fights total, Winston has proven himself enough to earn a bantamweight title fight against Terrion Ware (10-2) at BAMMA USA: Badbeat 12 on March 28 in Commerce, Calif.
“Terrion is a really good kickboxer, but at the same time he’s kind of a point fighter,” said Winston. “He’ll get in, get out, run away and get back in and try not to get hit. Nobody is trying to get hit, but his main goal seems to want to get out of the pocket and not exchange with anybody.”
Winston feels the key to victory is not to overextend himself and instead let the fight come to him and take advantage of situations as they appear rather than push for them.
“I think that it’s very important that I keep my composure and not rush in and hurry to take Terrion down or just play his game,” said Winston. “And when he does come in, I’ve got to go ahead and counter him.
“I do catch him on the way in or he catches me on the way in, that I’ll hopefully get the clinch and get takedowns that way. I’m not looking to shoot from far away and instead get takedowns naturally instead of forcing them.”
Even though getting a chance to headline Badbeat 12 and fight for a title is a big step for Winston, he doesn’t intend to let the magnitude of the situation overwhelm him.
“Even though it’s a title fight, I feel the same exact pressure (as any other fight),” said Winston. “No matter the fight, I want to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities.”
And should Winston come out of March 28 with the win, he’s hoping to use it as a springboard to his next goal in the coming year.
“I think the ultimate goal for anybody in the regional levels is to get to the next level and into a show like the UFC, Bellator or WSOF,” he said. “Maybe with one or two more fights, I can get into one of those shows. Whatever the case may be, when it does happen, I want to be ready for it.”