MMA Odds and Ends for Wednesday: Barao vs. Wineland To Headline UFC 161
The UFC interim bantamweight title will be defended for a second time.
According to Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com, who confirmed the report with UFC president Dana White, interim bantamweight titleholder Renan Barao will fight Eddie Wineland at UFC 161, which takes place June 15 at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
The bout will be the main event of the evening.
Barao (30-1, 1 NC) is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet and is currently riding an incredible 31-fight unbeaten streak, having only lost one fight in his career, a split decision setback in his MMA debut back in 2005. The 26-year-old Brazilian has been nothing short of flawless in the UFC so far, defeating Michael McDonald, Urijah Faber, Scott Jorgensen, Brad Pickett and Cole Escovedo in his five Octagon bouts to date. Barao, who is a training partner of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, will become the only fighter in UFC history to defend an interim belt twice when he fights Wineland, as UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is still on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
Wineland (20-8-1) earned his shot at the title by taking out Pickett and Jorgensen in his last two fights. A former WEC bantamweight champion, the 28-year-old Wineland has been fighting professionally since 2003 but has really only come into his own in the last few years, winning six of his last nine fights, with the only losses coming to Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Rani Yahya. Wineland is an excellent boxer and has knockout power, but going up against a stud like Barao, he's going to be in a tough spot and will have to fight an absolutely flawless fight in order to win.
Expect Barao to open as a -300 favorite, with the comeback on Wineland being about +250.
UFC 161 also features light heavyweight matchups of Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, as well as a welterweight bout between Tyron Woodley and Jake Shields and a heavyweight matchup between Stipe Miocic and Soa "The Hulk" Palelei.
Silva vs. Weidman, Silva vs. "Feijao" Targeted For UFC 162
It looks like Chris Weidman has finally got his wish, as Mark LaMonica of Newsday Sports reported today that UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta told Weidman that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has finally agreed to fight him, and the two of them will meet in the main event of UFC 162, which is set for July 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Weidman (9-0) earned his title shot by defeating Mark Munoz and Demian Maia last year, but this might be a case of "be careful what you wish for" because since the win over Munoz last summer, Weidman has been out of action due to scheduling issues and injuries. Still, the 28-year-old American is a legit prospect and if he can implement the Chael Sonnen gameplan of taking Silva down to the mat, he can win this fight.
Silva (33-4) is the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport and has defended the UFC middleweight title a record 10 times since winning it from Rich Franklin back at UFC 64. The 37-year-old Brazilian is an incredible striker and submission artist and has finished 26 fights by way of T/KO or submission, earning his spot as the top fighter in the world. However, he has shown weaknesses in the wrestling department, and if Weidman can exploit them it's possible we'll see a new UFC middleweight champion.
Expect Silva to open as a healthy favorite in this fight, perhaps somewhere in the -250 to -300 range, with the comeback on Weidman being +200 or over. My early lean is Silva by TKO, but Weidman certainly has the stifling wrestling game to give Silva fits on the mat.
As well, Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com reports that Thiago Silva and Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante, who are each returning from drug suspensions, will meet at UFC 162 in a three-round light heavyweight bout that is expected to take place on the main card.
Silva (14-3, 2 NC) is coming off a submission victory over Stanislav Nedkov at UFC on FUEL TV 6 that was later changed to a no contest when he tested positive for marijuana metabolites after the bout. Still, Silva is a dangerous fighter and if he shows up clean for this fight against "Feijao" he definitely has the opportunity to not only pick up the win, but also keep it on his record (he also had a win over Brandon Vera at UFC 125 taken away after testing positive for a banned substance).
"Feijao" (11-3, 1 NC) most recently defeated Mike Kyle in Strikeforce last May but he was suspended for steroids after the fight and his win was changed to a no contest. The Brazilian, who is a teammate of Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva, is one of the top 205ers in the game and will finally get to show how good he is under the bright lights of the UFC, but he needs to show up clean for this fight because another positive drug test would definitely see him get cut by the UFC.
This should be a close fight in the betting lines, perhaps even opening as a -120 Pick 'em either way.
Expect both of these bouts to become official soon.