If there was any last minute attempt to find Eddie Wineland an opponent for UFC 161 it’s apparently failed, as the bantamweight has officially been removed from the June 15th card according to MMA Junkie.com. Wineland was supposed to fight interim champ Renan Barao at the Winnipeg bound event, however, the latter was forced to withdraw due to torn ligaments in his foot.
Confirmation that Barao would not be able to compete at UFC 161 didn’t come down until a couple of days after the May 18th, UFC on FX 8 card, giving the promotion little time to find a suitable opponent for Wineland.
Not only is it unfortunate for Wineland that he’s out of a fight now for June 15th, but his chance to defeat Barao may not happen at all (or for some time). Due to the nature of the interim championship, if reigning champ Dominick Cruz is ready to go fairly soon, then obviously Barao will fight him when he’s recovered. Wineland may have lost his chance to take out Barao and become the first man to battle Cruz since October, 2011, as UFC officials have reportedly said a Barao-Wineland booking isn’t certain at this juncture.
As the MMA Junkie.com story points out, there are several top ranked bantamweights who don’t have bouts booked currently, including Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald, Scott Jorgensen, Ivan Menjivar and Brad Pickett.
Wineland has already scored wins over Jorgensen and Pickett last year, however, and even if he were to fight one of those guys soon, the WEC vet wouldn’t jump to the front of the line and land a bout with Cruz. Cruz is recovering from not one, but two surgeries to repair his ACL. In the grand scheme of things, he hasn’t been away for that long, but in the MMA world, it seems like forever no?