After the proposed Barao-Wineland interim title bout as well as the “Shogun”-Nogueira light heavyweight tilt were forced off the main card due to injuries, UFC 161 was then restructured around light heavyweight contenders Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans. Roy Nelson was then added in a battle against Stipe Miocic to round out the overall well-balanced card. After all is said and done, the Pay-Per-View telecast looks to again continue an already successful 2013 campaign for the UFC.
Before action goes down on Saturday night, check out some possible conclusions for a look at what might be. For undercard predictions, check out UFC 161 preliminary predictions.
Pay-Per-View Main Card
In what could produce the next possible challenger to champion Jon Jones’ title, 42 year-old Dan Henderson takes on the always tough Rashad Evans.
The former Olympic wrestler with dynamite in his hands, Henderson has been a longtime staple in MMA. After conquering in Japan and attaining gold in a memorable battle with Wanderlei Silva, he brought his talents back stateside and has been a handful for all men he has come across. Known primarily for his huge right hand, he mixes an all-around excellent wrestling game to bail him out when his hands can’t do the work. He’ll be looking to get back on track after dropping an uneventful decision to Lyoto Machida in his last fight.
Rashad Evans can also pack a punch. While not quite as potent as Henderson’s, Evans is still very capable of sleep-inducing strikes, as evidenced in his past battles with the legendary Chuck Liddell and fan-favorite Forrest Griffin. Evans is also another man that mixes excellent wrestling with his strikes, although he uses both in unison slightly more effectively to keep opponents off-balance. Evans brings a two-fight losing streak into the fight but a win over Henderson can erase the slide and get him back in contention with the rest of the light heavyweights.
Henderson is healed up and ready to go. He’ll be able to keep the fight up where he wants it and fend off as many of Evans’ wrestling exchanges as it takes to land a big right. Henderson wins by TKO.
Nelson steps up as a late edition after the original man, Soa Paleilei, was forced to withdraw because of an injury. In doing so, he’ll look to continue on a tear that has included three straight knockouts in as many fights. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has built himself to become a feared puncher, thanks to some insanely heavy hands, as he displayed in those three fights. Last seen separating Cheick Kongo from his consciousness, he can make it four in a row and make a stronger case for a potential shot at the heavyweight belt.
Miocic is also an accomplished striker himself. While he may not be blessed with the same power as Nelson, he makes up for it with good boxing combinations to both the body and head. He also possesses a hefty seven-inch reach advantage and an excellent college level amateur wrestling background. After an impressive three wins to start his UFC career, he ran into Stefan Struve at UFC on FUEL TV 5 and was beat down en route to a TKO loss.
Miocic will be happy to engage “Big Country” and, for that, he will pay the price. Nelson wins by KO.
Alexis Davis might be one of the better submission artists in women’s MMA. With those grappling skills, she has experienced a good deal of success, especially considering she possesses a set of very rudimentary striking skills. Davis makes her debut on the heels of two exceptional submission finishes of two very accomplished submission artists in Shayna Baszler and Hitomi Akano.
Sexton also prefers to grapple. Not as efficient in the submission department, she uses clinches and takedowns to score points and land ground-and-pound when the opportunity presents itself. She may not be as big or as strong as her opponent on Saturday but she is still very good at what she does. Sexton also makes her UFC debut and enters on a three-fight winning streak.
Davis imposes her will and wears Sexton out until she latches onto a submission and wins.
Never one to be short on entertainment value, Pat Barry has been mostly a middle-of-the-road heavyweight. He uses a top-notch kickboxing game to dispatch most foes willing to trade with him. In the event they choose to ground him, his deficiencies begin to become very evident. Still, he has worked tirelessly to improve his wrestling. Barry returns on the heels of a knockout of Shane Del Rosario.
His opponent, Jordan, is a relative newcomer in the Octagon. However, in just three fights, he has shown is pretty diverse skill-set, due in large part to his excellent athleticism. That diversity was displayed in his last outing at UFC on FX 6. Jordan TKO’d Mike Russow in a one-sided beating that showcased his balanced skill-set.
No secret where this fight is likely to end up. Jordan takes the path of least resistance and takes Barry down. He wins by TKO.
After suffering his first loss since 2007, Ryan Jimmo is returning with a vengeance. In a disappointing loss at UFC on FUEL TV 7, he looked to have secured his second UFC win until his opponent, James Te Huna, dug down deep and stayed alive to squeak a decision. In the loss, Jimmo still showed the flashy striking skills and resiliency he has been known for.
Pokrajac is another of the gritty, well-balanced fighters to come out of Croatia. Taking a shot to land one of his own has been his MO. That game plan has come with mixed results but Pokrajac is typically the more offensive fighter. When his striking hasn’t resulted in much success, he is a very accomplished grappler and can win fights there when possible. Before his last bout with Joey Beltran was overturned and ruled a no contest, he had won three of his last four.
Pokrajac won’t be afforded the luxury of being a bully in this one. Jimmo will using his more technically sound striking and solid takedown defense to take this one by decision.
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