You don’t have to be a 250-pound freak of nature to put on a stellar showing inside the cage. Eddie Wineland and Brad Pickett proved that in their FX preliminary card capper on Saturday night. These two bantamweights reminded MMA followers that elite striking prowess isn’t nonexistent in the sport of mixed martial arts, despite what elitists may have you believe.
Pickett, though not as technically refined as Wineland, is a very, very capable striker who strings together powerful punches and has a penchant for throwing heavy hooks when his foes opt to disengage. In contrast, Wineland is a precision striker through and through with some of the finest lateral movement you’ll spot in the sport, regardless of weight class.
For three rounds, these men engaged in a kickboxing match of thrilling magnitude. Grappling played virtually zero factor in the fight, as both Wineland and Pickett looked pleased to exchange punches for 15 minutes. The crowd reciprocated that pleasure with raucous cheers.
Ultimately it was Wineland who took home the W. He landed heavy in the first frame of this contest, wobbling his English opponent, and upheld an active offense for the remaining two rounds. Pickett came on strong in the fight’s final five minutes, and while he managed to tag Eddie with a few hard hooks, it was a bit too little, too late.
Wineland has now pieced together two consecutive victories under the Zuffa-owned UFC banner, and his next out will likely come against a top-ranked contender. Being the first man to knock Scott Jorgensen into unconsciousness was impressive; following that performance up with a masterful three-round decision win over Pickett makes for quite a statement. I can’t imagine that these performances have fallen on blind eyes.
It’s time for Eddie to reclaim a seat in the division’s Top Five.
Thus far Wineland’s only kryptonite looks to be superb wrestlers. Wineland and Urijah Faber tangled at UFC 128, with Faber escaping the bout with a unanimous decision nod. With longtime champ Dominick Cruz sidelined indefinitely, and interim champion Renan Pegado scheduled to fight the division’s brightest prospect—Michael McDonald—at UFC on FUEL TV 7, it might be best for Wineland to wait out the upcoming meeting between Faber and Ivan Menjivar at UFC 157.
If Faber emerges victorious—as many predict he will—a rematch would suit Eddie well, and provide a better barometer of exactly where his wrestling stands today. The first fight was a spirited affair, with Wineland hanging tough and shining on more than one occasion. Since that fight, Faber hasn’t looked profoundly improved, while Wineland looks like he may be hitting his prime a bit late. There’s no reason for these two not to meet once more inside the Octagon.
Should Faber fall to Menjivar, there’s no reason to avoid pairing Ivan and Eddie together. Menjivar’s a seasoned veteran with some great wins under his belt and some solid momentum in his favor. Outside of a decision loss to Mike Easton, he’s looked stellar in his last half-dozen fights, and like Eddie, he seems to have gotten a career second-wind.
I’d prefer to see Wineland tussle with Faber once more, but I’d be nearly as excited to see how Eddie fares against a guy as diverse as Ivan Menjivar.
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