Eddie Wineland on path to go full circle

Renan Pegado (left) and Eddie Wineland during a press conference for UFC 161 in Winnipeg last...

Renan Pegado (left) and Eddie Wineland during a press conference for UFC 161 in Winnipeg last April. Pegado had to pull out of the fight due to injury and the two will face off Saturday in Toronto. (Brian Donogh/QMI Agency)

NEIL SPRINGER, For QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:18 PM ET

Eddie Wineland has the opportunity to go full circle.

The inaugural WEC bantamweight champion is set to challenge interim UFC 135-pound titleholder Renan (Barao) Pegado in the co-main event of UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre Saturday.

Since the winner is expected to face returning UFC bantamweight champ Dominick (The Dominator) Cruz in a title-unification bout early next year, Wineland could regain the belt he lost over six years ago.

"The opportunity is huge," Wineland said on a recent media call. "To me, it's almost a homecoming. If you trace the lineage of the UFC belt, it (started as) the WEC belt. I was the first holder of the WEC belt. So again, to me, it's a homecoming. I've been training my butt off.

"I'm going to come and put it all on the line. My plan is to take that belt back to Indiana with me."

Though Wineland is poised to battle Pegado this weekend, he almost saw his title hopes slip through his fingers.


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