UFC 161 takes place Saturday night from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It is the first UFC event from Winnipeg. The event is headlined by a battle between former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and former Pride, Strikeforce and RINGS champion Dan Henderson. It is an important bout for each man, as both are coming off losses. Henderson vs. Evans was not the original intended main event, but a series of injuries left the card decimated. Stay tuned for coverage throughout the evening.
In preliminary action, Yves Jabouin was gifted a wretched judges' decision over Dustin Pague and Mitch Clarke won an emotional decision over John Maguire.
Roland Delorme vs. Edwin Figueroa
This bantamweight contest features two of the division's best finishers. Of their 17 combined wins, only 1 has gone to a decision. Delorme has relied more heavily on submissions with Figueroa having more knockouts.
Round 1. Delorme charges forward looking for a takedown. Figueroa wings some big punches but Delorme is able to get him to the ground and take his back. Figueroa tries to scramble out but Delorme catches him in a triangle choke submission attempt. Figueroa is able to duck out the back but Delorme grabs his arm and looks for an armbar. Figueroa rolls out of danger and goes to work with some heavy punches from top position. Delorme then reverses and takes top position on Figueroa. He quickly moves into a more beneficial side control position. Figueroa attempts to stand up but Delorme once again takes his back. Delorme looks to lock up a rear naked choke submission but Figueroa defends well. Delorme uses his leg to trap one of Figueroa's arms, leaving Figueroa with only one arm to defend as Delorme works to secure the submission. Figueroa finally frees his arm and survives the round. Very exciting round. 10-9 Delorme.
Round 2. Delorme secures another takedown. Figueroa grabs a triangle choke from the bottom but looks for an armbar and loses the triangle. Delorme lands a few punches and passes into side control. He then takes Figueroa's back yet again. Figueroa explodes out of that and takes top position. Delorme looks for an armbar from the bottom but Figueroa gets out. Figueroa then begins landing heavy shots from the top. He winds up his punches and drops them from very high onto Delorme's face. Delorme stands up and then takes Figueroa down. Delorme looks to take Figueroa's back but only is able to secure one hook. This has been a tremendous fight. 10-9 Figueroa.
Round 3. Figueroa throws some power punches but Delorme takes him down as he throws an overhand right. Figueroa looks to scramble up but Delorme takes his back again and locks in the familiar body triangle to secure position. Figueroa stands up and gets out of that position. However, Delorme grabs Figueroa's waist and tries to take him back down. Figueroa wiggles out and lands a few hard punches. Delorme lands a nice knee and goes for another takedown. Delorme can't get it and looks very tired. Figueroa lands a quality hook and uppercut but gets taken back down. Figueroa looks for a guillotine choke but can't get it. Delorme passes into side control. Delorme briefly looks for a North/South choke but gives it up. Figueroa once more tries to get up and lands a series of punches in the process. Figueroa takes top position and drops some very hard punches as the round comes to a close. 10-9 Figueroa, 29-28 Figueroa.
Winner: Roland Delorme, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Sean Pierson vs. Kenny Robertson
Pierson is a 37-year-old veteran of the sport best known for getting into a little controversy when his employer the Toronto police department didn't approve of his secondary career as a fighter. Robertson comes from a wrestling background and has developed a solid submission game as well.
Round 1. Robertson moves in throwing punches to set up a takedown, but slips and backs off. Pierson lands a nice right hook and Robertson ducks under and looks for the takedown. Robertson pushes through and gets it. Pierson looks to stand up but in the process, Robertson takes his back and sinks in the hooks. That's exactly what we repeatedly saw with Delorme in the previous fight. Pierson spins out and looks for a front choke on Robertson. They return to the feet. They exchange on the feet with neither man landing much and Robertson goes for another takedown. Pierson is able to stop it and controls Robertson's head consistently. Pierson backs off and stands up, with Robertson taking a heavy breath. Pierson lands a nice uppercut and hook, and a straight punch that wobbles Robertson. 10-9 Pierson.
Round 2. Robertson lands a few leg kicks and looks for a takedown. He doesn't come close and Pierson begins walking him down. Pierson is doing much better in the standup exchanges. Robertson does land a spinning backfist. Pierson connects with a head kick and Robertson shoots for a takedown. Pierson looks for a D'Arce choke but Robertson slips out and takes top position with two minutes left in the round. Robertson lands a few punches and elbows from the top. He keeps working for the remainder of the round but isn't able to connect big. Tough round to score. Pierson was significantly better in the standup, but Robertson did control nearly half the round on the ground. 10-9 Robertson.
Round 3. Robertson lands a nice straight right punch and wobbles Pierson with another moments later. Robertson swarms as Pierson looks to cover up. Robertson just isn't accurate enough to land the finishing shot but he does a lot of damage in the process. Robertson looks for a D'Arce choke but doesn't get it and then takes Pierson's back. Robertson mostly just lands punches from the back but isn't able to threaten with a choke. Robertson finally comes close to a choke late but can't get it and Pierson rolls into top position at the close. 10-8 Robertson, 29-27 Robertson.
Winner: Sean Pierson, majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28).
Sam Stout vs. James Krause
Stout is a long tenured UFC veteran with 15 fights inside the Octagon and 5 fight of the night awards. Krause is making his UFC debut following a 7 fight win streak outside the organization.
Round 1. Stout goes to work early with a series of inside leg kicks. He clinches with Krause and they grapple for control next to the cage. They separate and Krause looks to establish his jab. He has a big reach advantage. Krause drops Stout with a knee up the middle but Stout recovers quickly. Krause gets a takedown and lands some hard punches from the top. Stout is bleeding badly from the side of the head. Stout stands back up. They exchange on their feet as the round winds down. 10-9 Krause.
Round 2. Stout attacks aggressively with punches to start the round. Stout hurts Krause with a very hard punch to the body. Krause winces and covers up but Stout isn't able to capitalize. Stout lands a nice body kick. However, Krause gets the bad cut on Stout from the first round bleeding again with a hook. Krause takes Stout down halfway through the round. Stout gets back up less than a minute later. Stout lands kicks at different heights and mixes in punches. There's clearly a desperation on his part after the way the first round went. Krause goes for a takedown but Stout stuffs it and takes top position to close the round. 10-9 Stout.
Round 3. The fighters trade leg kicks to start the round. Krause connects with a good right punch up the middle. Krause knocks Stout's head back with a couple jabs. Krause lands a flying knee that makes a big sound but Stout is fine. The fight settles into the usual Stout rhythm, with relatively even standup exchanges. The difference is Krause's jab. Stout gets a takedown with 30 seconds left in the fight. Krause grabs a guillotine choke and gets the tap with around 15 seconds left. That was clutch, as the judges have not been kind to non-Canadians tonight.
Winner: James Krause, submission, round 3.
Jake Shields vs. Tyron Woodley
Shields is a former Strikeforce, EliteXC and Shooto champion who badly needs an impressive performance here after a series of underwhelming performances following his UFC welterweight title loss to Georges St. Pierre. Tyron Woodley is a rising star coming off a spectacular UFC debut. A win here would be the most high profile of his career.
Round 1. Shields throws some light leg kicks. Shields grabs a leg and looks for a takedown but Woodley prevents it. They clinch against the cage and exchange knees. They separate and Shields goes back to work with light leg kicks. Shields goes for another takedown with a minute left in the round. They clinch for the remainder of the round. 10-9 Shields.
Round 2. Shields again is more active with leg kicks. Woodley nearly misses with an overhand right. Woodley for whatever reason, perhaps not wanting to be taken down, has been really inactive thus far in the fight. Shields connects with so little power but Woodley is doing nothing in response. They clinch next to the cage and exchange knees. Shields looks for a takedown but doesn't come close. They separate and Shields clinches again. The crowd boos. 10-9 Shields.
Round 3. Shields throws a few light jabs and light kicks. Woodley responds by doing nothing. They clinch again. "They're not doing a vicious amount of damage," opines Joe Rogan. The sun is kind of hot, retorts Copernicus. Woodley lands a nice right on the separation. Woodley connects with a spinning backfist. Shields clinches again. They separate. Shields goes back to work with light jabs and light leg kicks. Shields has a takedown stuffed. Woodley opens up with a few hard punches at the fight mercifully comes to an end. 10-9 Woodley, 29-28 Shields. What a dreadful fight.
Winner: Jake Shields, split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28).
Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan
Barry is one of the UFC's most exciting fighters, an excellent kickboxer with big power and a very likeable personality. Jordan is a former LSU football player who is 2-1 in the UFC with a well rounded game.
Round 1. Barry throws a head kick early but it is blocked. Barry lands a nice straight right punch. Jordan connects with a pair of hard uppercuts. Barry is dropped and Jordan swarms on him. Jordan lands a series of punches and Barry just covers up. The referee finally stops the fight.
Winner: Shawn Jordan, TKO, round 1.
Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton
Davis is one of the world's best 135 pound female fighters, making her UFC debut. Her greatest strength is her ground game. Sexton has a unique background, as she has a PhD and practices osteopathy in addition to her MMA career.
Round 1. Sexton, who usually fights in the 125 pound division, looks distinctly smaller than Davis. They move to the center of the cage and begin exchanging wild hooks. Davis moves Sexton against the cage and lands some knees. They separate and Sexton connects with a left hook and a right hook. Sexton ducks down for a takedown but Davis blocks it. A scramble ensues and Sexton gets top position. Davis looks for a triangle choke submission from the bottom. Sexton lands punches from the top while Davis continues to cinch up the hold. Davis eventually gives it up and Sexton keeps landing big punches. Davis looks for the triangle again as Sexton keeps landing punches. Tough round to score. 10-9 Sexton.
Round 2. Sexton clinches and looks for a takedown. Sexton gets her down and into half guard position. Davis nicely reverses into top position. She is active from the top landing punches. Sexton finally works to stand up and Davis grabs a choke attempt in the process. Davis can't get her arm under Sexton's chin but takes Sexton's back and lands punches to the side of the head. 10-9 Davis.
Round 3. They start the round exchanging looping punches. Davis shoots for a takedown but Sexton blocks it. Sexton takes top position but Davis uses a threatened attack on the leg to take Sexton's back. Davis secures a body triangle and looks for a rear naked choke submission. Sexton gets out and ends up in top position. She lands some punches from the top. Davis looks to stand up but in the struggle she is able to regain top position. Davis lands some light punches to the stomach and stands up. 10-9 Davis, 29-28 Davis.
Winner: Alexis Davis, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28).
Ryan Jimmo vs. Igor Pokrajac
Jimmo rode into his last fight on a 17 fight win streak but lost solidly to James Te Huna. Pokrajac is an inconsistent fighter who has some impressive UFC wins and some lackluster UFC losses.
Round 1. Jimmo lands a leg kick at the start. Pokrajac pushes in with punches and they clinch. They separate and Pokrajac charges in again. He ducks down and looks for a takedown. He doesn't get it and they're separated. Pokrajac goes back to the clinch. They separate again. And clinch again. Upon separation, Pokrajac lands a big right hand that is the best shot of the fight thus far. They return to the clinch. 10-9 Pokrajac.
Round 2. Jimmo drops Pokrajac with a punch and looks to finish the fight. Pokrajac is able to survive and get back up, but Jimmo takes him down and takes top position. Jimmo works passively from the top, occasionally landing punches while Pokrajac just covers up on the bottom. Jimmo lands some elbows. As Jimmo postures up, Pokrajac lands a nice upkick. Jimmo moves into side control. He holds it until the end of the round. 10-9 Jimmo.
Round 3. Jimmo takes down Pokrajac. He lands a punch or elbow every now and then. Pokrajac looks for a guillotine choke but can't get it. Jimmo goes back to work with sporadic punches and elbows. Pokrajac stands up with a minute left in the round. They clinch again. Dreadful fight. 10-9 Jimmo, 29-28 Jimmo.
Winner: Ryan Jimmo, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic
Nelson is one of the sport's most colorful figures, with his wild beard and big belly. He possesses big knockout power and a great ground game. His career is in a unique position. He enters this fight on a 3 fight winning streak but is a free agent after the bout and has an acrimonious relationship with UFC president Dana White. He stirred up additional controversy this week referring to fellow heavyweight star Daniel Cormier as an Uncle Tom and ridiculing the UFC's title fight policy. Miocic is a 9-1 prospect with a wrestling and boxing background.
Round 1. Nelson comes out swinging heavy punches. Miocic looks for a takedown but can't get it. Nelson then looks for a takedown but doesn't get it. Nelson goes for one of his favorite combinations, a couple jabs followed by a big overhand right that doesn't connect. Miocic counters with a few heavy straight punches. Miocic looks for a takedown and lands a knee in the clinch. They separate and Miocic tags Nelson with some huge punches right the chin. Nelson looks noticeably slowed. Nelson looks for a takedown and doesn't come close. Miocic wobbles Nelson with big punches and has him in trouble against the cage. He is hammering Nelson with elbows and a hard uppercut. Nelson looks very tired and he was beat down in that round. 10-8 Miocic.
Round 2. Miocic lands some big punches and a knee to start round 2. Nelson keeps swinging at air. Miocic is unofficially ahead on significant strikes 61 to 15. Miocic drops Nelson back with more big straight punches. He is beating Nelson up badly. Miocic lands a kick to the body. He lands more punches and a nice knee. Nelson stops a takedown attempt. Miocic connects with a straight punch. Nelson lands a nice uppercut and Miocic circles out of the way. Miocic then answers with a solid three punch combination. Nelson is slow and tired. 10-8 Miocic.
Round 3. Miocic lands another hard straight punch early. He lands another moments later. Miocic is moving at seemingly twice the speed of Nelson. Nelson charges forward looking to land a big power shot but can't get it. Miocic clinches and just grinds on Nelson against the cage. Nelson lands a nice uppercut but Miocic runs out of the way. Miocic lands another nice combination. He nails Nelson with two more big punches against the cage. Nelson is breathing very heavy and Miocic lands a few more punches right to the chin at the end. 10-9 Miocic, 30-25 Miocic.
Winner: Stipe Miocic, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson
Rashad Evans built a sterling 17-1-1 record with wrestling and striking heading into his light heavyweight title loss to Jon Jones. His next fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was supposed to get him back on the right path, but instead he suffered the worst loss of his career with a flat performance and baffling gameplan. A loss here would be his third in a row. Henderson, now 42, has excelled in recent years. He won 7 of 8 heading into his last fight with Lyoto Machida, where he lost a close split decision in an uneventful bout. Henderson has an excellent wrestling background but has become reliant on his power punches and legendary chin.
Round 1. Evans starts off the fight with a jab that connects. Henderson moves in with a pair of hard right punches. Evans lands a couple hooks to set up a takedown but he doesn't come close to getting it. Evans lands a few looping punches in rapid succession, showcasing excellent handspeed. Evans clinches and presses Henderson against the cage. Henderson circles out. Henderson drops Evans with a simple jab and looks to finish the fight with big home run punches. Evans is able to avoid the finishing blow and recovers his senses. 10-9 Evans. Henderson landed the most telling blow of the round but Evans consistently scored more offense.
Round 2. Between rounds, Evans' corner tells him to take the fight to the ground and Henderson's corner tells him that Evans can't take a punch. Evans gets a takedown 30 seconds in but Henderson immediately stands back up. On separation, Evans lands three straight nice right punches. Henderson fires back and Evans backs off. Evans moves in for a takedown and eats a couple right hands in the process. He doesn't get the takedown, either. Evans lands another right punch. He's being cautious with his offense so as to not leave himself open to Henderson's power. Evans goes for a takedown but Henderson throws him off with authority. Henderson lands a right punch again late and opens a little cut by the eye of Evans. 10-9 Henderson. Both rounds have been tossups.
Round 3. Evans moves in. Henderson lands a counter right hook but Evans walks right through it and lands a series of punches of his own, one of which briefly drops Henderson to one knee. Evans lands a few nice jabs. Evans ducks down and grabs a single leg. Henderson defends well and Evans has to settle for a clinch against the cage. Evans backs up, lands a few punches, and moves away. Evans clinches again and lands a few punches. Henderson answers with an elbow. They continue to exchange from close range. Henderson misses a wild overhand and Evans connects on an uppercut. 10-9 Evans, 29-28 Evans.
Winner: Rashad Evans, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
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