UFC bantamweight John Castaneda returns to action on Feb. 20 against Eddie Wineland nearly seven months after his promotional debut.
The layoff wasn’t by design, but ultimately as the 29-year-old explains, it was the right choice to wait things out.
“I was definitely trying to get a fight in there sooner,” Castaneda told Cageside Press recently. “I actually had a couple of offers. I forget exactly who, but it just worked out. We’ve been putting in some serious work and now we get a full camp. You know that last fight, I got a short-notice fight against a top dude. Nathaniel Wood was a tough guy [and now] I get a tough guy in Eddie Wineland. But I get a full camp, so confidence comes from the preparation and I’m prepared for this one for sure.”
Castaneda (17-5) dropped his third fight in his last four outings with a unanimous decision setback to Wood at UFC Fight Island 3. Prior to the skid, Castaneda amassed an impressive 14-2 record.
One benefit for the Mankato Martial Arts product is that this fight will take place in Las Vegas, a place where “Sexy Mexi” has never lost.
“I like to joke about it, but I’m undefeated in Vegas,” Castaneda explained. “And I think I’m like 3-0 or 2-0 or something like that. But the time difference for sure [will make a difference]. The [Wood] fight in Abu Dhabi, was a lot to adjust to. I think I got like four hours of sleep like the last two nights leading up to my fight, which, you know, is no excuse by any means, but it definitely is a little bit different to get used to you know?”
Wineland (24-11-1) hasn’t fought since a first-round TKO loss to Sean O’Malley at UFC 250 in June 2020. The 36-year-old has also dropped three of his last four fights and will be looking for just his second win since 2017.
Castaneda believes his speed and cardio will be the difference against the former UFC title challenger.
“I feel like it’s a great matchup,” Castaneda said. “I think that Eddie Wineland is just such a good boxer. I think that’s his style, you know? A hard nosed boxer. I don’t think he’s got much of a kickboxing or muay thai pedigree, but you know, that’s where I feel like I’m going to exploit him a little bit. I’m outhustling him. That’s the only prediction I got out-hustling him in all aspects.”
UFC Vegas 19 takes place on February 20 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes battles Derrick Lewis in the main event.