Johnson’s move to flyweight necessitates opponent switch
The introduction of the flyweight division to the UFC on Saturday meant two current bantamweights made the 10-pound drop in weight class. And that means a new opponent for a former 135-pound champion.
Eddie Wineland, the first WEC bantamweight champ, will now face Johnny Bedford at UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis. Wineland’s original opponent, Demetrious Johnson is one of four fighters who will challenge for the first UFC flyweight title. He’ll fight Ian McCall in March, so was pulled from his fight against Wineland. The UFC announced the opponent switch overnight.
Wineland (18-8-1, 0-2 UFC) is coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in seven years. In March, he lost a unanimous decision to former featherweight champ Urijah Faber at UFC 128. Though he was a heavy underdog, Wineland won the first round on all three judges’ scorecards – stuffing multiple Faber takedown attempts and even landing a takedown of his own. But Faber controlled the fight on the ground in the second and third rounds to win 29-28. In August, Wineland fought Faber teammate Joseph Benavidez – who like Johnson is dropping to flyweight to go after the 125-pound title. But Wineland was shut out, losing a 30-27 sweep on the cards.
Johnson would have been the third straight Top 5 bantamweight opponent for Wineland, who before the loss to Faber had built up a four-fight winning streak to close out his WEC career – including back-to-back Knockout of the Night performances against Will Campuzano and Ken Stone. The full-time firefighter splits his training time between his Northwest Indiana home base and Chicago, making the UFC on Fox show at the United Center a home bout for him for the first time since a WEC 40 loss to Rani Yahya. In Indiana, Wineland’s training partners include fellow UFC fighters Darren Elkins and Keith Wisniewski, as well as Bellator fighter Josh Shockley.
Bedford (18-9-1, 1-0 UFC) is coming off a win in his UFC debut earlier this month, a dominant TKO win over fellow TUF 14 cast member Louis Gaudinot at the TUF 14 Finale. Bedford dominated Gaudinot throughout the fight before getting the third-round stoppage – and may have been on the way to a 30-24 score on some cards, since 10-8s would have been reasonable expectations in the first and second rounds. Bedford reached the semifinals of the TUF 14 bantamweight bracket, but lost by knockout to eventual winner John Dodson.
UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis takes place Jan. 28 at the United Center in Chicago. The UFC’s second show on Fox, but first under the broadcast deal that starts Jan. 1, features a main event light heavyweight contenders fight between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis. The co-main event is a title eliminator between middleweights Chael Sonnen and Mark Munoz, with the winner likely to fight Anderson Silva in early summer. Also on the Fox broadcast is a middleweight fight between Michael Bisping and Demian Maia.