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Eddie Wineland can't wait for chance to punch Bryan Caraway in the mouth

Esther Lin photo

CHICAGO -- Eddie Wineland knows he's not the only person, regardless of gender, who wants to take couple shots at Bryan Caraway.

"I've heard a lot of people don't like him," Wineland told "I heard Ronda Rousey doesn't like him. I have no doubt she could throw him on his head."

Unlike so many others who have wanted to get a piece of Caraway, who has a habit of saying things which rub people the wrong way, Wineland will get the opportunity to do more than just talk. The former WEC bantamweight champion meets Caraway on the UFC on FOX 16 prelim card Saturday at United Center.

"I can't get into why other people don't like him, and truth be told, it's not like I know the guy," Wineland said. "But there are just some things you don't say."

So what got under Wineland's skin? Well, in his last bout, 14 months ago, Wineland suffered a broken jaw in a loss to Johnny Eduardo. The injury was severe enough that the veteran from Indiana pondered retirement.

The dust had barely settled on the loss when Caraway called him out on television.

"The guy wins a fight, gets put in front of the mic, and the first two people he calls are were Michael MacDonald, who was out with a broken hand, and me, who just had my jaw broken," Wineland said. "Yeah, you're a really big hero there, buddy. All the guys you could call out in the division, and you go straight after two guys you know are out, hurt."

While it wasn't the only factor, Caraway's words were one of the factors which helped Wineland (21-10-1), who has competed since 2003, come back around on an Octagon return.

"This is the second time I've broken my jaw in my career," Wineland said. "Trust me on this, coming back from that just one time sucks, but doing it when you're 30, it sucks that much worse. You go through that period where you're just thinking to yourself, ‘man, do I really want to put myself through this anymore?'"

But after a few months -- and following the birth of his first son -- Wineland started to get the competitive itch again.

"Sometimes a little time away is what you need," Wineland said. "Sometimes you take a break, you step back, and you find the fire again. After about four months, once I start feeling better, I realized I've still got the passion. I'm only 31, I feel like I've got another four years left in me as a fighter. This is what I love to do."

Had Wineland retired, his place in the sport's history was already secured. Back in 2006, he knocked out Antonio Banuelos to become the first holder of the WEC bantamweight title. The current UFC bantamweight title, being defended by T.J. Dillashaw against Renan Barao in the main event on Saturday, traces its lineage to the WEC title.

"Hardcore fans get it," Wineland said. "You have to keep in mind, this goes back to before MMA became cool. So a lot of the fans see I'm a former WEC champ, but that don't really know the story behind it. But the knowledgeable fans understand that was the top 135 pound title at the time, so it's good to know that they know."

As for the rest of the fans? Well, Wineland has a rep as a fighter who is either going to score a knockout or go out on his shield, and as far as he's concerned, that's a solid legacy as well.

"I want the guy up in the cheap seat who paid his hard-earned money on a ticket to feel like I gave him his money's worth," Wineland said. "The way I fight, we're going to stand and one of us is going to get knocked down. That's just who I am as a fighter."

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