So much for the title unification bout at bantamweight, because interim champion Renan Barao is set to defend his belt once more, this time against former WEC Bantamweight Champion Eddie Wineland. This will headline UFC 161, which is set to take place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on June 15. The bantamweight title fight is supported by a stellar undercard of light-heavyweight matches, with Rashad Evans taking on Dan Henderson and a rematch between Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
This does beg the question of when Dominick Cruz will be back in the Octagon, because at some point they have to turn the interim title into the undisputed bantamweight championship. Dana White has said he will only strip the title if Cruz can never return to fighting. Barao won the title last July at UFC 149 when he beat Urijah Faber by decision, and is fresh off a win over Michael McDonald in his first defense. Wineland is only on a two-fight winning streak, but is ranked at number four in the UFC rankings with wins over Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgensen.
The only people above Wineland in the rankings are Faber and McDonald. If Barao beats Wineland, the only match left for him at 135 would be Cruz, because he has beaten nearly all of the top ten. Hopefully, this will be the last defense of the interim title before they unify the belts.
Demetrious Johnson was opining to defend his title at UFC 161, but with that date being the earliest possible return for him, the UFC must have deemed it too risky. He will most likely return at a later date. For now UFC 161 has its main event.