At UFC 165, which takes place later tonight (Sat., Sept. 21, 2013) from Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, combat sports fans will be treated to two big title fights in one night, as directly below the main event is a Bantamweight tilt between Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland that will be fought for the former's "interim" strap.
Speaking of the bantamweight title, it's about time that Barao gets respected as the division's No. 1 fighter. He has already defeated most of the division's top talent, defending his interim title once after beating Urijah Faber to win it last July, while injured champion Dominick Cruz has languished on the sidelines.
Barao's is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and he is a tall task for any man in the world. With a high level of athletic ability, as well as well-rounded skills in all areas of fighting, Barao is one fighter who truly fits the "complete" moniker.
Barao comes from a camp known for producing exciting, talented and dangerous men. And he is no exception. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu is excellent, complementing it with a more-than-competent wrestling game, which is uncommon among great submission grapplers. His Muay Thai is very effective and aggressive, but he is a composed fighter no matter how he strikes, even if it is just straight boxing.
In recent years, Wineland has been a sight to behold. His only losses have been competitive battles with the creme-de-la-creme of his division, and he is coming off two straight dominant wins over Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett, respectively (despite the baffling opposing score card in the Pickett fight).
Wineland's game is one that is exciting in every way. His striking is unique and unorthodox, constantly cutting angles and landing power punches. And to keep the fight in his preferred realm, his takedown defense is superb. Even if the fight hits the mat, he is more than capable of reversing positions with his explosive movements and great technique.
This fight will play out in such a way that I think will surprise many people. Wineland -- a huge underdog on the betting lines -- is the fighter who is well equipped to defeat Barao. His takedown defense will necessitate a stand up fight, and to me, that's anyone's game. Barao's vicious Muay Thai against Wineland's slick boxing is a match up that is quite enthralling, and one I could see going either way.
If and when Barao loses striking exchanges, expect him to go for takedowns, but expect Wineland to be well prepared for them. His sprawl is excellent, and his speed and explosiveness go a long way in thwarting off takedowns without a drawn out struggle.
This fight will be won by whoever can connect with the most authority and pressure his opponent more effectively. Barao's skillset is suited to more orthodox fighters, so he may have a tough time figuring out Wineland's techniques, but it is not beyond his capabilities. Wineland needs to press forward and be awkward, in an attempt to set Barao off his game. This fight is very evenly matched, and I see both fighters getting in some big strikes of their own.
All in all, this fight has all it needs to be an entertaining scrap for the 135-pound title. In the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) co-main event of the evening, be ready to see Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland steal the show in spectacular fashion because this fight has all it needs to be "Fight of the Night" at UFC 165 tonight.