I know this is super delayed but every week or two I'm gonna try to post my thoughts on undercard fights that piqued my interest. Feedback is appreciated guys! After 3 straight wins in the UFC followed by a competitive showing against perennial contender Urijah Faber, Frankie Saenz (11-4) was primed for a showcase performance on Saturday. Meanwhile Eddie Wineland (22-11) was on the other end of the spectrum, enduring a 14 month layoff after a KO loss to Johnny Eduardo followed by a lackluster decision loss to Bryan Caraway. From the outset Saenz employed an outside fighting approach where half of his output relied on low kicks. They were effective in disrupting the rhythm of Wineland’s movement, often forcing Wineland to reset his stance and limiting his ability to initiate the boxing exchanges. Despite the impression Wineland’s low guard may give to some, Wineland in fact has the 2nd highest striking defense in the bantamweight division (71%). His variety of feints, slips, level changes and propensity to bounce in and out of range consistently made it difficult for Saenz to get a read on Wineland and tempered the volume of strikes Saenz usually lands in his bouts. The clash of styles created an interesting dynamic. Unable to get takedowns and constantly on the backfoot, Saenz found himself in a position where he would lunge into his strikes in an attempt to intercept Wineland moving into range. However, this created ample opportunities for Wineland to counter. In his post fight interview Wineland mentions he worked extensively on the slip-cross/hook. And in the first round he has some real success with it as he slips the left hook from Saenz, touches him with a left hook of his own and lands a flush right hook that hurts Saenz. While knockout/knockdown blows are always captivating, I also have an appreciation for the moving parts that allow them to happen. The first one is Wineland’s jab. Although he seldom landed it, Wineland’s jab served two purposes in the lead up to the knockdown sequence in the 3rd round: 1. Defensive tool. Used to frame away from Saenz’s strikes when backing out of range. 2. Measuring tool. Used to gauge the distance for the right cross. The next thing he did to secure the knockdown was get in the right position. Instead retreating straight backwards, he stepped off line on a slightly diagonal angle. This also has a couple advantages: 1. Defensive tool. Used to shift your body away from the line of attack. 2. Provides a better angle to strike the “soft” points of the head (side of the jaw, temple & behind the ear). The synergy between measuring the distance and taking the angle were key steps to getting the finish for Wineland. The full time fire fighter had continually considered retirement prior to the bout, so hopefully he sticks around now that he's got a little momentum behind him. The depth of contenders at 135 is deeper than it's ever been, who do you think Wineland should fight next?