Bantamweight Johnny Eduardo made quite a statement in his first Octagon appearance since 2012 at UFC Fight Night 40. The Brazilian immediately inserted himself into the top-15 picture by blasting out former title challenger Eddie Wineland in the first round in Cincinnati.
Eduardo showed no Octagon rust and made it back-to-back victories by finishing Wineland with a pair of devastating right hands late in the opening frame. The fight would be halted at the 4:37 mark as Eduardo registered the seventh KO of his career in emphatic fashion.
The 35-year-old Eduardo used good movement to avoid Wineland’s powerful punches and kept his opponent at bay with solid leg kicks and crisp strikes before delivering the knockout blows. He improved to 27-9 with the victory and earned a Performance of the Night bonus.
Wineland, who had a failed 135-pound title effort against champion Renan Barao at UFC 165, saw his stock take a dramatic hit with the devastating setback. It was the second time in his last three appearances that he had been finished. The former WEC champion is now just 3-4 in his Octagon career and will take a major tumble from his previous No. 4 ranking.
Prior to his sensational finish of Wineland, Eduardo’s UFC career had been largely forgettable because of injury issues. He’d had potential clashes against Michael McDonald, Lucas Martins and Yves Jabouin fall through, but now becomes one to watch after a signature victory. Eduardo has now won 13 of his last 14 fights with that lone loss coming against Raphael Assuncao at UFC 134. He’s 2-1 inside the Octagon with the other win coming against Jeff Curran.
This was a clash where the fortunes changed dramatically for both competitors. Eduardo has set himself up for some high-profile opportunities moving forward while Wineland is left to do some soul searching.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.