UFC bantamweight Eddie Wineland is one of the fighters who has carried the torch for the lighter weight classes over the years.
The first-ever WEC bantamweight champion back in 2006, Wineland has consistently fought the best 135-pound fighters in the world in his nine years as a professional. After two failed attempts against Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez, Wineland finally got his first UFC victory with a highlight-reel knockout of Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FX 3 last June.
It was the first time Jorgensen had ever been finished with strikes in his 19-fight career and the win immediately put Wineland on the radar as one of the most dangerous fighters in the bantamweight division. Next up for the 28-year-old is a UFC 155 meeting with Brad Pickett in a clash of arguably the two hardest hitters in the weight class.
With the Dec. 29 fight roughly eight-weeks away and Wineland beginning to get into the thick of his preparation, he took the time to speak with Mike Bohn to discuss the match up with Pickett, how his punching power lines up with the rest of the division, how he feels about his fight not taking place on the UFC 155 main card, a future title shot and more.
Mike Bohn – First of all, How’s the cut feeling? How long did it take for that thing to get back to 100%?
Eddie Wineland: It’s still not 100 percent I don’t think. I know cuts take a while to heal to 100 percent. It’s healed well, it’s a little bit of a scar but unless you’re really looking at it you can’t really tell so I guess we’ll find out how well it’s healed if it gets caught.
Mike Bohn – Is that something that kind of bothers you in sparring at all ever, do you ever kind of worry that the cut might get hit wrong and open back up or is that something you’re just going ot have to live with?
Eddie Wineland: Yeah actually, I try not to let anything bother me, I just keep playing my game, you know? It is what it is and if I let it bother me my game’s going to change and I think my game is good enough where it is I don’t need to change it so I just – I live with the consequences that it may open back up and if it does I’ve dealt with it once and I’ll deal with it again.
Mike Bohn – How good did it feel to finally get that first UFC win under your belt against Scott Jorgensen last June?
Eddie Wineland: It was awesome, it was an awesome feeling. Esepcially to knock somebody out who has never been knocked out before. I guess everyone thought it couldn’t be done and Jorgensen’s got a good chin, I mean he does have a very good chin but I also have a good punch.
Mike Bohn – You got a nice bonus from the UFC for ‘Fight of the Night’, did you do anything special with that money?
Eddie Wineland: I paid my car off, I paid some bills and next goal is to pay my house off.
Mike Bohn – Well you have a chance to make another bonus soon as you just recently had your next fight announced against Brad Pickett in December, What do you think about Brad as an opponent?
Eddie Wineland: I think me and Brad – again it’s just like the Jorgensen fight, I mean it was inevitable, it had to happen sooner or later and he’s a game opponent, I know he throws hard and he’s got a good chin. We’re going to find out how good it is, I don’t think he’s ever been hit by someone like me. I put my right hand on his chin and we’re going to see how good it is. But I don’t think he’s afraid in any way to stand in there and trade.
Mike Bohn – The UFC is really putting you through the grind. With this fight you’ll have fought arguably the toughest four-fight schedule in the bantamweight division. Do you like the fact the UFC throws you in there with the best guy available every time?
Eddie Wineland: Absolutely, I mean that’s who I am. That’s why I’m there and that’s why everyone should be here, to fight to best. I’m a fighter; I’m a professional fighter at the top of my game. I’m not afraid to fight anybody and I want the fights that are going to get me – that are going to move me the furthest forward.
Mike Bohn – We’re about eight weeks away from your fight, when do you really start to pick up your training and start getting really intense with it?
Eddie Wineland: My hard training started this week, so I’m on like day three or four or whatever it is. I always try to stay active, so I always start my camps, I start my camps in better shape than the previous camps. I kind of do like a ladder effect if that makes any sense. I’ll peak out then I’ll set back down, it just – I’m continually getting better, continually getting better each fight. My cardio, my strength, my stamina, everything – everything is better than it was the previous fight.
Mike Bohn – What is your weight usually at when you start your camp if you don’t mind me asking?
Eddie Wineland: Right now I’m walking at like 153, 154. And I mean it’ll stay that way for a couple of weeks. You know I’m usually about 151, between 149 and 151 all the way up until weigh-ins.
Mike Bohn – Are you going to bring in anyone special to help you prepare for Brad? Or are you just going to train with the same group of guys that you always work with?
Eddie Wineland: I’ve got a good group, I mean Chicago’s pretty well-know for boxing, they’ve got a pretty good boxing background here and I’m just going to bring in some straight-forward boxers, some good grapplers and you know, just like normal just get in there and bang it out.
Mike Bohn – How big of a bummer is it that you have to miss out on the holidays for this fight?
Eddie Wineland: No, I’ll miss a couple of meals for the paycheck, it’s well worth the skipped meals and to give up my holidays. I can always do it when I get back, you know New Year’s Day I can have me a nice little feast.
Mike Bohn – Not to give too much of your strategy away or anything, but just from observing Brad Pickett’s game where do you think you’re stronger than him?
Eddie Wineland: I think I’m faster than him, I think I’m stronger than him, I think I’m longer. Punching power I mean we’re going to find out, I think I hit just a little bit harder than him. I know he hits hard but you know, we’re going to stand in there I’m going to hit him, he’s going to hit me and we’re just going to see what happens from there, you know? I think I’m more technical and I think I’m more straightforward and I think that’s going to be the key factor, I think I’m going to catch him.
Mike Bohn – People – you just kind of touched on it there – people would probably say you two of the hardest hitters in the bantamweight division, do you think you’re the hardest hitter in the bantamweight division?
Eddie Wineland: I’m not going to say I am, but I did just knock out Scott Jorgensen when nobody else could. So, that being said, even Pickett – Pickett fought Jorgensen and he couldn’t do that to him, so I don’t know I mean I guess that’s an opinion, so I’m not going to say yes, I’m not going to say no, but I’m definitely up there.
Mike Bohn – UFC 155 is looking to be, hopefully there are no injuries, but it’s looking to be the card of the year. Does it motivate you more knowing there will be more eyes on this card than your average UFC event?
Eddie Wineland: I train every fight like, you know, every fight is always the same. I don’t want to come underprepared, I don’t want to come over prepared, you know? You want to come in just right. I want to be ready and a fight’s a fight, whether I’m fighting in front of thirty thousand people or whether I’m fighting in front of 30 people, I want to win no matter what.
Mike Bohn – You guys are both top-10 bantamweights, but it looks like your fight is going to be on the preliminary portion of the card. Does that bug you at all that you guys aren’t going to be on the pay-per-view? Because this is a pretty significant fight in the bantamweight division.
Eddie Wineland: Yeah I think it is, I think it’s a key fight for the bantamweight division. I think this fight throws either one of us in the mix for title contention, you know? It hurts for sponsorships, but other than that it is what it is. I think just as many people are going to see it on FX as there are on the pay-per-view, you know? If not more, because some people would rather watch the free fights and not pay for them. But on the sponsorship side it hurts significantly.
Mike Bohn – Just a couple of final questions, I appreciate your time. Where does a win over Pickett at UFC 155 put you in the division? Do you think this could be a No. 1 contenders fight?
Eddie Wineland: I don’t see it as being a contender’s fight, I think the McDonald fight, and that’s originally – he was looking for that fight also and that’s the fight I was looking for as well. I believe at this point McDonald is probably right there at the number one contenders spot. I definitely think that a win over Pickett, then one more will put me in title contention.
Mike Bohn – Speaking of the title, I just wanted to get your opinion on Baro saying he wants to wait for Dominick Cruz to recovery from injury before he fights again. Do you think it’s fair that an interim champion cannot defend the belt? Isn’t that the point of an interim belt that they are supposed to defend it until the champion is ready?
Eddie Wineland: Yes and no, I can understand if he want to wait to be the defining champion. I understand that part, but I also think on his part he doesn’t know how long he’s going to have to wait. If they do sign a fight and somebody else gets injured, well then you’re just waiting even longer. I think I would be scared of getting cold, of getting rusty. Not being active is you worst enemy.
Mike Bohn – So if you were in Barao’s position you think you would probably defend the belt?
Eddie Wineland: Yeah I don’t see why not. You can look at it from both points. I can understand that he wants to fight Dominick because that’s the fight that he wants, that’s the fight that’s going to make him the true champion, that’s what he feels. Me, I just like to fight man. You put a paycheck in front of my face and say, ‘Hey, you’re going to fight this guy’. Well alright, lets do it.
Mike Bohn – Anything else you want to get off your chest before I let you go? Anyone you want to thank or anything like that?
Eddie Wineland: Just everybody who is going to help me get ready for this fight. Between New Breed Jiu-Jitsu in Chicago and then the guys at Duneland Vale Tudo. My strength and conditioning coach has really, really done a lot of good things for me at Applied Strength and Conditioning and without those guys I really wouldn’t be where I’m at today.