Another exclusive by my buddy Matt E at the NWI TIMES.
Mixed Martial Arts // NWI Blogs
Chesterton native Eddie Wineland, a former bantamweight champion for World Extreme Cagefighting, will make his return to the WEC cage on Sept. 2 at WEC 43: Cerrone vs. Henderson in Youngstown, Ohio.
Wineland told The Times on Tuesday via text message that he was confirmed for the card and that he will be fighting Manny Tapia.
Wineland (14-6-1) last fought at WEC 40: Torres vs. Mizugaki at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on April 5, a card headlined by fellow Northwest Indiana fighter Miguel Torres, the WECís bantamweight champion. On the preliminary card of that event, Wineland lost to Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Rani Yahya by a first-round rear-naked choke.
He was scheduled to fight Frank Gomez at WEC 41: Brown vs. Faber 2 in Sacramento last month but had to pull out of that fight with an elbow injury.
In Tapia (10-2-1), Wineland draws a once highly touted bantamweight looking to get back on the winning track. Tapiaís first career loss was to Torres when he challenged him for the bantamweight belt at WEC 37; he lost via TKO in the second round when Torres rained down fists and elbows before the referee stopped the fight. And at WEC 40, Tapia lost a decision to Akitoshi Tamura. Like Yahya, jiu-jitsu is Tapiaís strength.
But Wineland has the potential to pick the brain of Torres, one of the worldís best pound-for-pound fighters, to come up with a gameplan for Tapia. Wineland, also a full-time firefighter, has done some training at Torres Martial Arts Academy in Hammond.
WEC 43 will be headlined by a WEC lightweight interim title fight between Donald Cerrone and Ben Henderson. The current lightweight title is held by Jamie Varner, but a hand injury he suffered against Cerrone in January has kept him out action since that fight. WEC GM Reed Harris told The Times last month that Varnerís injury made the interim belt a necessity to keep the division moving forward.
The card will be the WECís first in Ohio, where big brother company UFC has had success with shows in Columbus and Cincinnati. Youngstown and host arena the Covelli Centre are between Cleveland and Pittsburgh in the northeastern part of the state.
Tickets for WEC 43 go on sale to WEC newsletter subscribers on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Central time. Tickets for the general public go on sale Thursday at 9 a.m.