John Castaneda (17-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) will look to register his first UFC win when he fights bantamweight veteran Eddie Wineland (24-14-1 MMA, 6-8 UFC) at UFC Vegas 19 on Saturday.
John Castaneda vs. Eddie Wineland
Castaneda classified Wineland as a “really heavy boxer” as opposed to a kickboxer and grappler. “Sexy Mexi” feels one of his keys to victory is his speed.
“I’m not going to feed into what kind of fight he wants,” Castaneda told MMASucka. “I’m going to push a pace on him, outpoint him and try to stick and move a lot; not really allow him to get going. I see myself victorious whether it be on the feet or on the ground.”
Castaneda, 29, said he’s fought tough opposition throughout his professional career so far; from undefeated fighters to up-and-comers. Wineland, however, is the most “reputable” guy Castaneda will have fought, he acknowledged.
“I’ve yet to fight somebody like Eddie Wineland with the resume that he has,” Castaneda said. “He’s a WEC [bantamweight] champ and a former UFC contender. He’s always game to fight. He’s been around for a really long time. It would definitely boost where I’m at now [in the bantamweight division]. I’m always looking for the tougher fights and the guys who are going to bring me one step closer to the gold and eventually a world title.”
Castaneda is adamant he can defeat Wineland in a fight, but he also has respect for the fighter he grew up watching while in high school and college.
“He’s one of the first guys I really admired, because I knew he was a 135’er,” Castaneda said. “I liked his style back then, and I still like his style right now. But can I beat him in a fight? Absolutely. I’ve always been a fan of Eddie Wineland, and I have nothing but respect for Eddie, but when it comes to fight night, it kinda goes all out the window.”
Castaneda made his UFC debut in July 2020 when he dropped a unanimous decision to fellow prospect Nathaniel Wood. Castaneda appeared on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and stymied Cheyden Leialoha via unanimous decision.
He was not signed by the UFC, so he went 3-2 under the Combate banner; the promotion he’d spent a good portion of his career. The UFC then signed Castaneda for a short-notice bout against Wood.
Castaneda is embracing the tough matchmaking, however.
“The first one is a rough … I’m filling in at the last minute. I get that. I understand that. For them to feed me another tough guy right off the bat, I think that speaks volumes. They know what I’m capable of and know what I can do with a full camp. I’ve got my management team speaking nothing but good things about me, I’m sure, as well. I’m ready to prove I belong here and belong with the top guys.”
Fight Preparation During Coronavirus Outbreak
Castaneda finished his second coronavirus-era camp heading into the fight. He said he actually prefers training during the pandemic due to the curfews in Minnesota.
“Essentially, you can call yourself a ‘full-time fighter.’ I’ve always put in this much work, but I’ve got nothing else to focus on throughout the day, which is, I think, the best thing for me. I’m not having to go do a little night job on the weekends every once in awhile. My mind is clear, and there’s nothing else on my mind besides this fight, so I think it’s going to be beneficial, and I think you guys will be able to tell come fight night.”
One con is that there are less distractions during fight week, which leads to fighters spending more time thinking about their looming bout. Castaneda said his coach, Greg Nelson, has helped calm his nerves throughout his career. Normally, Castaneda would go out to watch a movie during fight week, though that’s not currently an option.
“Sitting there, over analyzing and thinking about all the things that could happen; I think that to an extent, those things are good, but overthinking it is definitely not,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’ve put in the work. Nothing you think about now is really going to change, unless you’re thinking positively. Most of the time, those Fight Week jitters aren’t really positive thoughts. They’re like, ‘Damn, I’m so nervous.’”
Castaneda instead will look to occupy his mind with in-hotel movies, shows and video games.
As for a prediction, Castaneda said he sees himself finishing Wineland on the ground.
“Eddie is a very, very heavy boxer. I’ve been working a lot on my Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling this camp, which I didn’t do my last camp. I think that showed with Nathaniel Wood. Fun fact: I’ve had 22 professional fights. I’ve taken down my opponent in every single one of them besides Nathaniel Wood. I think that kind of spoke for itself in that I need to stick to my roots, work on what I’m already good at. This camp, I did that.”
UFC Vegas 19 is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20. The action is slated to go down from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
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