UFC 161 Predictions
By Tony Kamps
Injuries have decimated the UFC 161 card, but it still holds a solid main event that should entertain viewers. Honestly, it does not even feel like fight week leading up to this UFC event that takes place in Winnipeg. The fans, and the media, have not shown much interest in the card. They should because this could be one of the better events of the year.
Let’s do this!
Dan Henderson (29-9) vs. Rashad Evans (17-3-1)
Usually when you pit two wrestlers against each other you see a very awkward stand up battle which will not be the case in this match. Coming off the most lackluster fight in his career, a loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157, Henderson is revving up for one last run at a UFC title. He needs to really bring a ferocity in this fight to show that his performance at UFC 157 is not a sign of an aging fighter who can longer chase down the quicker opponent, because make no mistake about it Evans is the quicker fighter. A loss here will most likely squash any hope of getting one last chance to achieve the only thing missing in his illustrious career; a UFC title.
Evans’ situation is just as dire when you are being completely honest. The one time UFC light heavyweight champion has fallen on hard times in his last two fights, both losses to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Jon Jones. The Jones fight was for the title, but he was outclassed by the current champ in every round of the fight. His next fight against Nogueira was much of the same prompting some to call for his retirement. Evans shrugged off the retirement talk by accepting this fight against the number 3 ranked LHW in the world.
As close as this fight is on paper it will not be that close on fight night. Henderson will land his patented H-Bomb in one of the five rounds, and Evans chin will not be able to withstand the power. The only advantage Evans holds over Henderson is his speed which will probably make this fight go at least three rounds. Henderson in the past though has shown he can track down quicker opponents and lay them out (see Michael Bisping). This win should notch Henderson up to just one more fight away from a title shot, if not right away.
Pick: Henderson, TKO 3rd Round
Roy Nelson (19-7) vs. Stipe Miocic (9-1)
Let’s be honest this fight was made to appease the fans after all the injuries that forced fighters to pull out of the event, and one fighter with visa issues.
Nelson is coming off an impressive KO of Cheick Kongo at UFC 159 back in April. The KO was his tenth straight victory by way of KO/TKO. His antics inside the octagon, and outside, have made him a fan favorite, while also drawing the ire of UFC President Dana White. Being on the bad side of White is never good, but you can’t dispute the fact that this guy is fun to watch. He brings that element of suspense, because when he rears back that right hand it can knock anyone out…anyone. Even when he loses the fight is entertaining. Nobody can watch his fight against Junior dos Santos at UFC 117 and say they were bored. A victory puts ‘Big Country’ exactly where Dana White does not want him; in line for a title shot.
In the way of Nelson is Stipe Miocic. This fighter was breezing his way up the rankings of heavyweight until he decided to stand and trade with Stefan Struve at UFC on FUEL TV 5 in September of last year. It was a poor choice for him as he was TKO’d by the ‘Skyscraper’ giving him his first professional loss. The fight did show that just like Nelson, Miocic is an entertaining fighter to watch even when he loses. Only one of his nine professional fights has gone to a decision. This makes this match-up even more intriguing.
This fight will not make it out of the first round. If it does it will be a miracle or proof that one of the fighters did not come to scrap. Nelson believes in his chin, and considering he has only been stopped once has no reason to stop believing in it now. Miocic is in the exact same situation; unfortunately he has never faced anyone with Nelson’s power. Nelson will land an overhand right that will put Miocic to sleep.
Pick: Nelson, KO 1st Round
Ryan Jimmo (17-2) vs. Igor Pokrajac (25-9)
The card stays in the heavyweight division with this match-up of two fighters coming off of losses.
Jimmo looked to be getting ready to notch his 18th victory in a row after dropping James Te Huna in the 1st round of their fight at UFC on FUEL TV 7 back in February. It all looked to be in his favor after pouncing on his opponent and attacking him ferociously looking for the TKO victory. It would not be as Te Huna was able to weather the storm, and then dominated Jimmo in the 2nd and 3rd rounds handing him only his 2nd professional loss.
Pokrajac is not ‘technically’ coming off a loss after his decision loss to Joey Beltran at UFC on FX 6 in December was overturned and changed to a No Contest. Either way he hasnot looked good in his last two fights, this includes his armbar submission loss to Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 152. A victory over Jimmo could stave off being cut by the UFC, and would be his biggest win since defeating James Irvin at UFC Live 2 in August of 2010.
The UFC matchmaker, Joe Silva, was probably thinking this would be a good lead up to the Nelson/Miocic fight because it would end with a KO, and he’s probably right. The only backfire is that Pokrajac has an unbelievable chin. This will be an entertaining fight as Jimmo will land a lot of big shots and beat up the Croatian quite a bit, but it will not end with him being KO’d.
Pick: Jimmo, Unanimous Decision
Alexis Davis (13-5) vs. Rosi Sexton (13-2)
Whenever there is a female fight on a card it peaks an interest for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is that so far the women in the UFC have delivered in every fight that has taken place. This is no longer a “tryout” situation. If you are a female fighter in the UFC you need to bring it every fight, because so far everyone else has been. This fight should be no different.
Davis has only been fighting for about six years, but she has faced some of the biggest and best out there in that time. Her last two fights were with Invicta FC where she submitted both Shayna Baszler and Hitomi Akano. Prior to that Davis made a name for herself in Strikeforce defeating Julie Kedzie and Amand Nunes, and losing to Sarah Kaufman. Having won five of her last six fights she is on that short list of serious contenders in the UFC women’s bantamweight division.
Sexton on the other hand is a big underdog in this fight. She has two losses in her career both to top of the line fighters in Zoila Frausto Gurgel and Gina Carano. Sexton is most famous for UNINTENTIONALLY causing one of the most horrific leg injuries during an MMA bout when she broke Tomomi Sunaba’s leg during a Bodog fight. She’s no push over, but her lack of top level competition causes skepticism in her ability to compete with the elite.
Davis is going to be just too much for Sexton. This is the most talented fighter Sexton has ever faced. This will also be the least entertaining fight of the night, and the least entertaining women’s fight so far in the UFC. It just seems like this fight was put together to just get Davis a victory.
Pick: Davis, Unanimous Decision
Pat Barry (8-5) vs. Shawn Jordan (14-4)
The main card boasts a total of three heavyweight fights, and this one starts them all off. Let’s not kid ourselves this fight was put together to start the show off with a bang and will not let anyone down.
Barry is one of the better strikers in the heavyweight division, but because he likes to stand toe-to-toe he is susceptible to the knockdown. He does not let the fans down though as only one fight has ever gone to a decision in his career. Ten of his thirteen professional fights have taken place in the UFC compiling a 5-5 record. Inconsistent…yes, boring…no.
Jordan is one of those fighters who when you watch them you wonder ‘if this guy can ever just put it all together he could be really good’. Since he started to fight a better level of competition in Bellator, Strikeforce, and now the UFC he has a record of 5-3. All five of his victories have been impressive and he finished all five opponents as well; four by TKO and one by submission. His loss to Cheick Kongo at UFC 149 was not a good showing for the young heavyweight, but he followed that up with an impressive TKO of Mike Russow at UFC on Fox 6. The question is which Jordan will show up against Barry?
Normally I keep personal reasons from making predictions. It is very tough in this fight though because I really am a fan of Pat Barry, not just as a fighter but as a personality outside of the cage. Maybe it’s all just an act for the fans, but the antics of him and his girlfriend, fellow MMA fighter Rose Namajunas, make me laugh. That is why it is tough to say that Jordan will win this fight. I really want Barry to win, but Jordan has tremendous power that is the kryptonite to Barry.
Pick: Jordan, TKO 2nd Round
Jake Shields (27-6-1, 1 NC) vs. Tyron Woodley (11-1)
First off, how does this fight not make the main card? It is really shocking that the UFC put this fight as the cap to their FX card. The Sam Stout-James Krause fight may not have the big name, but is a perfect way to end the FX portion of the card. Just wondering.
Not going to go in depth on this one. Just going to point out that Tyron Woodley is one of the better fighters the UFC got in the Strikeforce transition, and with his excellent striking should be able to get past Shields. According to BestFightOdds.com Woodley is the favorite, but the fight is not as close as the odds makers put them.
Pick: Woodley, Unanimous Decision
Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans: Henderson, TKO 3rd Round
Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic: Nelson, KO 1st Round
Ryan Jimmo vs. Igor Pokrajac: Jimmo, Unanimous Decision
Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton: Davis, Unanimous Decision
Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan: Jordan, TKO 2nd Round
Jake Shields vs. Tyron Woodley: Woodley, Unanimous Decision
What do you guys think of the picks? Who are your picks for the fights?