TORONTO – Underdog Eddie Wineland surprised a lot of people by taking it to bantamweight interim champion Renan Barao on Saturday night’s co-main event at UFC 165. By the second round, though, he was struck by lightning. The Nova Uniao standout delivered a highlight-reel spinning back kick that dropped Wineland where he stood. It was the night's most spectacular moment up until Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson put on a show-stealing performance.
As Barao went in for the finishing blows, referee Yves Lavigne jumped in quickly to call Barao off. It happened all in sequence, and all pretty quick. At the post-fight press conference, Wineland was asked directly if he thought the stoppage was too early.
And as is Wineland’s custom, he didn’t hold back any punches.
"Um, personal opinion, I think BS," he said. "[Barao] caught me with a great kick. I was by no means out, I was on my way back up. But you know the ref’s are at their own discretion and that’s what he thought was the right call my hat’s off to him. It was a good kick."
Three weeks ago at UFC 164 in Milwaukee, in the co-main event between heavyweights Frank Mir and Josh Barnett, there was another instance where an early stoppage was the talking point afterwards. That time it was Mir, who took a big knee along the cage, that thought the referee stepped in too early to wave off Barnett.
This time the stoppage didn’t fall under the same kind of scrutiny. Mir was immediately chatting with the referee that night and protesting this stoppage, whereas in this one Wineland seemed a little unsteady as he recovered and made his way back to his feet.
When UFC president Dana White was asked if he thought the stoppage was too early, thus again miring a co-main event, he said no.
"It’s one of those tough calls," he said. "Trust me, I don’t like when a fight is stopped and a guy jumps right back up. But you know, [Wineland] got blasted with that kick. And that’s a nasty kick that knocks people out and he looked wobbly even when he got up. It’s just one of those tough ones. You know if I thought [it was early] I’d be smashing the ref and saying, ‘you ruined the co-main event,’ but that’s a tough one."
The loss snapped a two-fight winning streak for Wineland, who was more than holding his own up until that kick landed. White said that Wineland was keyed up to dethrone Barao, but that Barao -- whom he later likened to Floyd Mayweather with his 32-fight unbeaten streak -- is a tough out.
"You could see it in Eddie’s face when he walked out there, Eddie’s been telling me nonstop, "I’m going to win this fight, I’m going to win this fight,’" White said. "I’ll let him speak for himself, but he was fired up and mentally prepared for this fight. Renan Barao is a monster."