For Eddie Wineland, everything had gone perfectly up until everything went wrong. Facing Renan Barao, the man with the longest current unbeaten stretch in MMA, Wineland had won the first round on all three judges' scorecards. He was using his footwork to get into and out of striking range, and avoided the Brazilian's sole takedown try.
The second round began much the same way until the strike he never saw coming. Barao connected to Wineland’s jaw with a spinning back kick, and in a flash, it was over. It happened fast, so fast that Wineland suggested it was not a fair stoppage.
There is no questioning the fact that the kick hurt Wineland, who went crashing down to the canvas. But he disputes that Barao's follow-up lefts on the ground rendered him unable to continue.
"Personal opinion, I think it's bullsh-t," he said after the fight. "He caught me with a great kick. I was by no means out. I was on my way back up, but the ref’s at their own discretion, and that’s what he felt was the right call. My hat’s off to him. It was a good kick."
Standing nearby, UFC president Dana White couldn't agree with Wineland’s mild protest. Though White is frequently critical of referees, he seemed at ease with this particular stoppage.
"It’s one of those tough calls," he said. "Trust me, I don’t like when fights are stopped and the guy jumps right up. But he got blasted with that kick. That’s a nasty kick and he looked wobbly when he got up."
Wineland followed up last night's comments on Twitter this morning.
In his 30th professional fight, Wineland had only suffered a TKO loss one other time, a result that happened in 2004 and was ruled that way due to an injury that prevented him from continuing.
Meanwhile, Barao keeps on rolling, stretching his unbeaten streak to 31 straight fights. It will be his last interim title fight, as he will either face Dominick Cruz next or if Cruz is unable to compete in January, be promoted to champion.