UFC 161 Evans vs. Henderson Predictions and Analysis


It has been a long time since we as UFC fans have had to complain about the curse of the injury bug affecting UFC cards. It appears as though that may be changing as the UFC kicks it into high gear for the summer. The original main event of this card was scrapped when UFC Interim Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao was forced to withdraw from his title defense against Eddie Wineland. Next up was co-main eventer Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was forced out of his bout with Mauricio Rua. Chael Sonnen stepped up and volunteered for the bout, but was unable to secure a visa in time. That bout was then removed and rescheduled as the main event for the UFC’s debut on Fox Sports 1. Still, the UFC will be making its debut in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada at the MTS Centre for UFC 161 on Pay Per View.

What we have left is a main event between top Light Heavyweight fighters Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson, unfortunately both are entering the bout on the heels of somewhat lackluster losses. Roy Nelson was a last minute addition to the card, expected to bolster the card after the removal of the original main event, instead he’s shifted his way into the co-main event when he takes on Stipe Miocic. A women’s bantamweight bout between Rosi Sexton and Alexis Davis is slated for the main card. Canadian Light Heavyweight Ryan Jimmo faces Igor Pokrajac on the main card. And a bout between Heavyweight sluggers Pat Barry and Shawn Jordan opens the Pay Per View portion of the card.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Yves Jabouin vs. Dustin Pague

[adinserter block=”1″]Yves “Tiger” Jabouin is a 34-year-old fighter from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He now resides and trains in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where he is a member of the Tristar Gym. Jabouin is a talented striker who holds a career record of 18-8, and has won 12 via stoppage. Dustin “The Disciple” Pague is a 25-year-old fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He is a member of the TapouT Ranch in New Mexico and also leads his own team in Virginia. He is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter who holds a career record of 11-7.

Quick Pick: Yves Jabouin via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Mitch Clarke vs. John Maguire

Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke is a 27-year-old fighter from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He is a member of the Hayabusa Training Center in his hometown. Clarke holds a career record of 9-2, with most of his wins coming via Submission. John “The One” Maguire is a 30-year-old British fighter from Peterborough, England. He is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and trains at the Tsunami Gym in Cambridge, England. Maguire holds a career record of 18-5.

Quick Pick: John Maguire via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Roland Delorme vs. Edwin Figueroa

“Stunning” Roland Delorme is a 29-year-old fighter from Winnipeg, Manitoba and will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd on Saturday night. He is a member of the Winnipeg Academy of MMA who holds a career record of 8-1. Edwin “El Feroz” Figueroa is a 28-year-old fighter from McKinney, Texas. He is a member of the Mohler MMA Gym in Texas. He holds a career record of 9-2, with 8 wins via stoppage.

Quick Pick: Roland Delorme via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Sean Pierson vs. Kenny Robertson

Sean “The Punisher” Pierson is a 37-year-old fighter from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a former Toronto police officer, who has since left the police force to fight full time. He is a member of the Grant Brothers MMA Gym in Toronto. He holds a professional MMA record of 13-6. Kenny Robertson is a 29-year-old from East Peoria, Illinois. Robertson is a former NCAA wrestler who now trains with the Central Illinois Combat Club in Spring Bay, Illinois. He holds a career record of 12-2, with both losses coming against UFC standouts Aaron Simpson and Mike Pierce.

Quick Pick: Kenny Robertson via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Sam Stout vs. James Krause

Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout is a 29-year-old fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. Trained under the late Shawn Tompkins, he is a member of Team Tompkins, training in his hometown of London, Ontario. He is a UFC veteran who made his UFC debut in 2006 and has had 15 bouts in the promotion. He holds a professional MMA record of 20-8-1. James “The James Krause” Krause is a 27-year-old fighter from Newport, Virginia. In addition to having possibly the worst nickname in the UFC, he has fought for a number of other large MMA promotions including Resurrection Fighting Alliance, Titan Fighting Championships, Shark Fights and Bellator. He is a member of the Grindhouse MMA Gym in Blue Springs, Missouri. His professional record stands at 19-4.

Quick Pick: Sam Stout via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Jake Shields vs. Tyron Woodley

Jake Shields is a 34-year-old fighter from Summertown, Tennessee. Before joining the UFC, Shields was a prominent member of many other large fight promotions and held a number of titles including Rumble on the Rock Champion, Elite XC Welterweight Champion, Shooto Welterweight Champion and Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. Shields is a member of Cesar Gracie’s Fight Team in California, training daily with the Diaz brothers and Gilbert Melendez. He holds a professional record of 27-6-1 with 1 No Contest. Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley is a 31-year-old fighter from Ferguson, Missouri. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Missouri. He is a member of the American Top Team training out of Coconut Creek Florida. He holds a professional MMA record of 11-1, with the lone loss coming against Nate Marquardt.

Quick Pick: Tyron Woodley via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan

Pat “Hype or Die” Barry is a 33-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a talented striker who has competed in the past as a professional kick boxer before making the switch to MMA full time. He has competed in K-1 kickboxing as well as the World Combat League before making his UFC debut. Barry may not enjoy the best record in the UFC, but his striking heavy offense and his willingness to trade on the feet, means he will likely be employed by the UFC for as long as he wishes. Barry currently trains with the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He holds a professional record of 8-5.

Shawn “The Savage” Jordan is a 28-year-old fighter from El Paso, Texas. Jordan like his opponent is more known for his brawling style of fighting rather than being a technical precision striker. Jordan trains with Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jordan has fought for many major MMA promotions in the USA including Bellator and Strikeforce, before making his way to the UFC. Despite his somewhat unimpressive physique, Jordan is a strong athlete and can actually execute a standing backflip, which is an impressive feat for anybody let alone a Heavyweight fighter who tips the scales around 250 pounds. He holds a professional MMA record of 14-4 with most wins via knockout.

Analysis and Prediction: This is an extremely close fight that may come down to game planning. Jordan has never really been one to back down from a slugfest, but Greg Jackson will certainly want him to avoid one here. Barry is one of the most dangerous strikers in the Heavyweight division and is also one of the worst grapplers. A wrestling based approach would likely allow Jordan to coast. I think however he comes to trade like he did against Mike Russow. After seeing him get tagged against a slow and plodding striker like Russow, I can’t imagine he fares well against a striker of Barry’s caliber. Pat Barry via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton

Alexis “Ally-gator” Davis is a 28-year-old fighter from Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. She is a top-notch grappler who holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as Japanese Jujutsu. Davis is trained by Cesar Gracie and often trains with his team of fighters, although she splits her time between California and her hometown. Davis has fought for a number of big promotions including both Strikeforce and Invicta. Despite her immense grappling skills, her striking has not evolved to the point where she will be knocking ladies out any time soon. Still she remains one of the division’s toughest tests on the mat. Her professional MMA record stands at 13-5.

Rosi “The Surgeon” Sexton is a 35-year-old fighter who was born in Versaille, France. She is a talented fighter who trains with the Next Generation Gym in Manchester, England. In addition to fighting she is also a sports therapist and an osteopath. Sexton has been fighting as a professional since 2002, however she regularly fights as a Flyweight at 125-pounds and is moving up in weight for this bout at 135-pounds. Sexton holds a career record of 13-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Size will be the key to this bout. Davis has looked impressive against all but the top fighters in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Sexton while talented and experienced, is undersized for the division and is probably just happy to be in a UFC bout. Davis uses her excellent grappling as well as her size and strength advantage to grapple her way to a decision victory. Alexis Davis via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Ryan Jimmo vs. Igor Pokrajac

Ryan “Big Deal” Jimmo is a 31-year-old fighter from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Jimmo is a former MFC Light Heavyweight Champion and was also a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter, but did not enter the house after being eliminated in a qualification bout. Jimmo trains with the Blackzillians in Boca Raton, Florida but also spends some of his team with the Hayabusa Team in Edmonton, Alberta. Jimmo is a 2nd degree black belt in Chito-Ryu karate. Jimmo holds a career record of 17-2, with the first loss coming in his pro debut and the second in his last bout against James Te-Huna.

Igor “The Duke” Pokrajac is a 34-year-old fighter from Zagreb, Croatia. He is a member of the Croatian Top Team and is also a training partner of Mirko Cro Cop as a member of Team CroCop. Pokrajac is known for his entertaining brawling style and being able to withstand a lot of punishment. Pokrajac has a decent wrestling base, but his striking is somewhat sloppy. Still, he will constantly move forward and isn’t afraid to take a punch in order to give a couple of his own. Pokrajac holds a career record of 25-9.

Analysis and Prediction: Pokrajac can take a beating, that much we’ve seen, but he’s struggled lately and would probably be unemployed if Joey Beltran didn’t fail his post fight drug test after their last bout. Pokrajac was dominated in the striking department, specifically in the clinch by Beltran. Jimmo has an excellent Thai Plume and it’s hard to imagine he hasn’t seen the clips of Beltran battering Pokrajac from in close. I think Jimmo works to close the distance and brings an onslaught of knees and elbows from the clinch that crumple the Croatian near the end of the first round. Ryan Jimmo via TKO in Round One

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic

Roy “Big Country” Nelson is a 36-year-old fighter from Las Vegas, Nevada. Nelson was a contestant on the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter that featured only Heavyweights and was the eventual winner of the show. Nelson is also notable as being the final International Fight League Heavyweight Champion. Nelson holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training under Renzo Gracie. Nelson trains with the Country Club Gym in Las Vegas. In addition to his strong grappling credentials Nelson is also known for his iron chin, his ability to absorb punishment, big time knockout power and one of the least impressive physiques in MMA. Nelson holds a professional record of 19-7, including 17 wins via stoppage.

Stipe Miocic is a 30-year-old fighter from Willowick, Ohio. He was a standout athlete in college, training wrestling and baseball during his time at Cleveland State University. Miocic is a member of the Strong Style Fight Team in Euclid, Ohio. In addition to his excellent wrestling, Miocic is also a former Golden Gloves champion boxer. He was originally scheduled to face Soa Palelei in this bout, but the card was shuffled after it originally lost its main event and he now faces Nelson. Miocic in addition to being a full time fighter, Miocic also works as a firefighter and EMT in Ohio. Miocic holds a career record of 9-1, with the lone loss coming in his last bout against Stefan Struve.

Analysis and Prediction: Strangely Nelson is returning to action after very little rest, having competed just over a month ago at UFC 159. The UFC has made it seem like they’re doing their best to get rid of Nelson, although I don’t understand why. He’s extremely popular with the fans and he loves to brawl, he should be Dana’s favorite fighter. Miocic will need to execute a flawless game plan if he wants to succeed against Nelson here. He has the footwork to move in and out, and he’ll need to rely on a strong jab both offensively and defensively to keep him away from the big overhand right of Nelson. Miocic looked flat during his grappling exchanges against Struve, so I think Nelson also has a path to victory on the ground. As it is, I think he tags Miocic in the first round with that big overhand punch and knocks another Heavyweight cold. Roy Nelson via KO in Round One

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson

“Suga” Rashad Evans is a 33-year-old fighter from Niagara Falls, New York. He is best known as the heavyweight winner of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter and is also a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Evans is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Michigan State University. Evans holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and also Gaidojutsu. He is a former member of Greg Jackson’s camp but left after a very public falling out with the camp before his bout with Jon Jones. Evans now trains with the Blackzillians in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a career record of 17-3-1.

[adinserter block=”2″]Dan “Hollywood” Henderson is a 42-year-old fighter from Downey, California. He is a veteran MMA fighter who has been competing professionally since 1997. He has fought for a number of major MMA promotions all over the world including the UFC, King of Kings, Pride and Strikeforce. He has held championships in a number of those promotions, most notably as a dual-weight class champion in Pride (being the first man to simultaneously hold two championships in two different weight classes) as well as being a former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. Henderson is a talented Greco-Roman wrestler and was actually an Olympic representative in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics. He is a member of Team Quest, training out of Temecula, California. He holds a professional MMA record of 29-9.

Analysis and Prediction: Evans has the tools to take this fight, the question here is whether he’ll use them. He looked absolutely awful in his last fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, implementing a strange and action-light game plan against a slow and plodding fighter, he seemed content to simply hold hands for much of the fight. In the end he dropped a decision where one takedown or two, was probably all he needed to win. He has promised the media a return to his wrestling for this bout.

I’ve never hidden my love for Henderson on this blog. He strikes me as a down to earth guy with a concrete head who loves to scrap and make cash doing it. By this point everyone knows you have to avoid the H-Bomb right hand of Henderson’s, but still people seem to fall for it every time. The smart money is probably on Rashad trying to jab away at Henderson and he might. But Henderson is still one of the toughest wrestlers in the division to handle, so I don’t think Evans will have a ton of success in that area. Evans also doesn’t have the strongest chin, so even a glancing blow from Henderson might be enough to stagger him.

Straight up, I’m biased. I dislike Evans and love Henderson, so there’s nothing I’d like to see here more than Evans crumpled body in a heap on the mat at the end of this fight, basically the exact same as Lyoto Machida did to him in their title bout at UFC 98. H-BOMB! Dan Henderson via Knockout in Round Two

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