UFC 161 Preview
With UFC 160 now a distant memory, fight fans everywhere began to turn their attention to the injury riddled UFC 161 being held at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, originally scheduled to be headlined by an interim Bantamweight championship fight between Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland before a foot injury forced the champion Barao out of the matchup. The UFC quickly promoted the co-main event between light heavyweight veterans Dan “Hendo” Henderson and “Suga” Rashad Evans into the headline slot and the clash between light heavyweight Brazilian icons Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira to the new co-main event. That was until “Minotoro” pulled out of the bout with a back injury resulting in the bout being scrapped completely and “Shogun” being pulled from the card.
Now a shade of it’s former self, this fight card might have fight fans skeptical before ordering the pay-per-view, but the UFC has not disappointed fans at the halfway point of the year and I don’t see that changing at the end of Saturday night. Let’s take a look at the fights:
Pat ‘HD’ Barry (8-5) vs. Shawn ‘The Savage’ Jordan (14-4)
Although he’s been one of the most inconsistent fighters when it comes to wins and losses, heavyweight Pat Barry is guaranteed to delivered fireworks once that cage doors closes. With wins in two of his last three fights coming by way of violent knockout, “HD” will look to put together his first winning streak under the UFC banner with a win over the athletic Shawn Jordan. Despite an incredibly lackluster performance in his loss to Cheick Kongo back at UFC 149, Jordan managed to rebound with a come from behind TKO victory over Mike Russow back at UFC on Fox 6. Although he displayed impressive takedown range and top-game against Russow, “The Savage” will have a much more difficult time displaying a similar method of attack now that he has to worry about Barry’s thunderous leg kicks. If he can manage to avoid trading blows with the former kickboxing champion, I see Jordan pulling out a submission victory, as he has proven viability when it comes to the ground game of mixed martial arts.
PREDICTION: Jordan via second round submission
Alexis ‘Ally-Gator’ Davis (13-5) vs. Rosi ‘The Surgeon’ Sexton (13-2)
Former Strikeforce fighter Alexis Davis has been on a tear as of late, with wins in five of her last six fights with her only loss coming by way of an incredibly narrow decision against former Strikeforce number-one contender Sarah Kaufman. With her loss to Kaufman, Davis saw her title shot against women’s bantamweight kingpin Ronda Rousey slip away. Since then, she has back-to-back submission victories, earning both Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night honors. That being said, she could be in for a difficult night against Sexton. Making her debut back in 2002, Sexton is actually a natural flyweight but has dabbled in high weight classes before, including a 2006 defeat to immensely popular Gina Carano. She enters this bout riding a three-fight win streak all under the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship banner after spending time in both Bellator and Bodog Fights. But in the end, I see Davis’ size and grappling being the biggest factor in this contest as she has her way with her much smaller opponent.
PREDICTION: Davis via second round submission
Ryan ‘Big Deal’ Jimmo (17-2) vs. Igor ‘The Duke’ Pokrajac (25-9)
After putting on a record setting performance with a seven second first-round knockout in his UFC debut, Ryan Jimmo looked to be on the verge of recreating the magic after rocking James Te Huna early in the first round of their UFC on Fuel 7 throw down. But poor cardio ended up being his undoing, as “Big Deal” gassed out after failing to finish off his opponent, which resulted in two straight rounds of ground and pound by Te Huna en route to a decision loss for Jimmo. It was his first loss in six years and now the Blackzillian product will look to rebound against Mirko Cro Crop protégé Igor Pokrajac. If it weren’t for a failed drug test by Joe Beltran, “The Duke” would be entering this bout on a two fight losing streak, which means a loss to Jimmo could mean the end of his UFC run. Pakrajac’s greatest strength is his heart and iron chin, which also ends up being his worst enemy as the Croatian tends to turn his bouts in slugfests with his constant forward moving and heavy hands. In the end, I see Jimmo looking to utilize his quick jabs and crisp leg kicks and avoiding those long, looping punches Pakrajac tends to throw en route to a unanimous decision.
PREDICTION: Jimmo via unanimous decision
Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson (19-7) vs. Stipe Miocic (9-1)
Following the loss a pair of main card fights to injuries, the ever popular Roy Nelson stepped in on short notice to square off against the heavy handed heavyweight Stipe Miocic, who was originally scheduled to face Soa Palelei on the preliminary card. Nelson has about as much momentum as anyone in the UFC following three consecutive first round knockout wins. Garnering a cult following in the process, this portly octagon warrior has all but erased this image of beatdowns at the hands of Junior Dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum and is within reaching distance of his long awaited title shot. Miocic, on the other hand, is coming off the first loss of his career at the hands of the towering Stefan Struve. If Miocic can survive the opening onslaught that “Big Country” has displayed in the past, his chances of winning grow exponentially as only one of Nelson’s wins inside the octagon have occurred past the first round. But no matter how impressive Miocic’s striking has looked in the past, he hasn’t faced anyone quite like Nelson, who’s absorbed an astounding 331 significant strikes without being knocked out. Only former UFC heavyweight Tim Sylviaabsorbed more strikes without having the lights turned out in the heavyweight division. While a win over a prospect like Miocic won’t push Nelson into a title shot just yet, another impressive victory would most certainly force the UFC brass to give Nelson a top-five opponent in his next bout.
Nelson has been dominant over much more experienced fighters than Miocic as of late so in the end I see another impressive knockout from the fight fans favorite mullet hair warrior.
PREDICTION: Nelson via first round TKO.