Welcome to Rough Copy's UFC 161 predictions. This card has steadily been damaged as we came upon fight night, and I'm sure plenty of UFC fans are sitting this one out. I don't necessarily blame them, as $55 is a lot, but I'm a huge advocate of not letting names be the deciding factor on whether or not you watch. Amazing things happen out of nowhere in MMA, it's part of what draws up to it, and ignoring cards due to lack of name recognition will leave you scrambling around YouTube the next day trying to find a clip of some incredible KO you missed all because Anthony Pettis was pulled from the card and you didn't tune in.
Anyhow, UFC 161 is headlined by Dan Henderson Vs Rashad Evans, to longtime MMA vets who both are in serious need of a win. It's kind of fucked up to put two fighters who reaaaaaaally need a win for their careers to bounce back against one another, but hey, excitement is excitement. The main card also features a WMMA match between Alexis Davis and Rosi Sexton, and those always carry that extra magick. Two hard hitters with suspect chins are fighting, Pat Barry and Shawn Jordan, so who doesn't want to see a fight where someone is practically guaranteed to be knocked ridiculous?
Missing Roy Nelson or Stipe Miocic is a mistake, as well as Ryan Jimmo. All around, with lack of "huge" stars, this card still carries plenty of very talented MMA fighters that are worthy of your time. Plus, even the prelims have good fighters like Tyron Woodley, Jake Shields, Sam Stout, and several others.
Now that I've gotten that unknown rage out of myself, onto some fight predictions!
Pat Barry (15-5) Vs Shawn Jordan (14-4)
This fight is going to be a real barnburner. Both of these guys are huge power punchers, and both guys get knocked out too. Neither man is big on the ground game, and both guys are susceptible to the submission game. I am a big Pat Barry fan, just because of his wild style and obvious interest in having fun in the cage. Shawn Jordan doesn't draw me in nearly as much with his game or approach, but nobody can deny his skills come fight night. These two are going to open this card up with a bang as the first match of the night.
Although Jordan is much more structured than Pat, I do believe that Barry has faced higher levels of competition. Shawn is a beast, and Barrys tendencies to get after it may backfire (Again), but Jordan is no Struve. I run this match through my mind so many times, and all I can see is fists flying left and right. They both are so similar, down to their fight records, way of winning, types of losses, and even opponents they have faced. In fact, I ended up making my predictions on this fight based on how they stacked up against the same opponent because Jordan and Barry are so similar.
Both lost to Cheick Kongo, but Barry almost/did have him beat. Jordan lost a well fought decision to Kongo a year later. Pat Barry was TKO'd by Lavar Johnson, while Jordan submitted Johnson with a keylock. However, Pat crushed SHane Del Rosario, who himself smashed up Lavar Johnson. Shawn Jordan is coming off of a rallying comeback win over Mike Russo, while Barry is heading into this match off his victory over Shane Del Rosario.
I'm going to have to go with with the underdog on this one. I think Pat Barry's crazy fight style will backfire on his tonight, if for no other reason, because Shawn Jordan will be ready for it. Jordan is a much more measured fighter than Barry, and that's just about the only difference between these two guys. That difference may make all the difference in the world. I suspect that Jordan, if anyone does, will be more prone to use ground game and BJJ. I would give an edge on the mat to Jordan, and tossing that in with a smart approach, he should be able to dispatch Barry once Pat begins to tire out.
Prediction: Shawn Jordan wins via 2nd Round TKO.
Jordan has had mixed success in both Strikeforce and Bellator whereas Pat Barry is best remembered for his fight against Cheick Kongo. I haven't seen a man so violently beaten around a room since that Jamiroquai video. Between the two, I think Barry tends to fold more when the pressure is on. A win for Barry doesn't do a lot for his career, but Barry is a notable enough of a name to get him some better opposition should he win. I see a solid decision being won by Jordan on the ground.
Prediction: Shawn Jordan wins via unanimous decision.
Alexis Davis (13-5) Vs Rosi Sexton (13-2)
This fight has crazy awesome written all over it. Rosi Sexton is like the Dan Henderson of WMMA. No, not the KO power, the age. Sexton is 36, and carries with her other impressive numbers, like her fight record ( 13-2 ). She is a world class competitor, has literally fought all over the world, and is looking to blast her way into the UFC tonight by dispatching 13-5 Strikeforce/Invicta vet Alexis Davis.
Davis, probably best known for her wars in Strikeforce, is certainly a fighter you can rank with some of the best the UFC has in it's WMMA bracket currently. Davis has been a champion before, defended the belt, and so comes into this match with a bit more strat on paper than Sexton. Alexis Davis will certainly be looking to edge in on Tate and Rousey tonight, as this will be the biggest fight either fighter has ever had.
Sexton has a wicked ground game, with 7 of her 13 victories coming by way of submission. Wait, no that's Davis. Oh, wait, that's both fighters. Yea, Davis and Sexton both have 7 sub wins. Well, Sexton has 2 KO wins, so that should give her an edge on the feet. Oh wait, so does Alexis. Okay, well I know for a fact that Sexton has 4 decision victories, proving her stamina to go into deep waters.....aaaand so does Davis.
That's right. Both fighters have identical win type records. 2 KOs, 7 subs, and 4 D's.
Hell, they've both been knocked out twice each as well. The ONLY difference at all between them on paper is that Davis has 3 decision losses to Sexton's 0. Perhaps Sexton's camp has taken notice of this, and plans to simply outlast Davis. Wouldn't be my strategy against an opponent like Davis, but that would not surprise me at all if Sexton shows up with her endurance game on max.
I think this match is going to come down to drive, tenacity, and technique. Who has the crisper striking in camp this time around? Slicker ground game? These are all going to be the deciding factors tonight between Davis and Sexton. I would give Rosi an edge in experience, but she has only had 15 fights in twelve years as a pro, compared to Davis at 18 fights in 7 years. Looking at the math makes their 13-2 and 13-5 records become the same, thus, meaningless in terms of deciphering who is more likely to win.
I cannot even remember the last time a fight was so damn close on paper. I'm going to go with Davis on this one, as my mind tells me her youth may end up being the only big difference once the cage door closes. Either way, this fight will be an absolute war with no clear favourite to win. Those, my friends, are the best kind of fights.
Prediction: Alexis Davis wins via 3rd round rear naked choke
Rosi Sexton is an osteopath. I didn't read into this more than the wikipedia entry on the subject, but basically what I gathered is that she knows healing magic. Her good spirits couldn't save her from Gina Carano's punch demons in her first professional fight, but she hopes to get on a winning path with this fight. Alexis Davis has had decent success and I expect the more experienced fighter to put it down tonight, voodoo be damned.
Prediction: Alexis Davis via first round TKO.
Ryan Jimmo (17-2) Vs Igor Pokrajac (25-9)
Yet another example of why you should never miss a fight based on name recognition. This fight, like the two before it, is slated to be one hell of a damn fight. Ryan Jimmo is one of those great fighters who stumbles when it counts, but has all the making of a champion level fighter. Pokrajac is equally as skilled as Jimmo, but with more experience and fights. Both guys are big KO artists (7 for Jimmo, 13 for Igor) and tend to stand and trade as opposed to wrestle.
Igor may have an advantage in this fight, as his submission game (from what we have seen) is a good deal beyond Jimmo's, but fights have to go to the ground in order for that to happen (most times). I just don't see Ryan getting caught up in Pokrajac's ground skills unless Igor can impose his will on Ryan from the start. Plus, Jimmo has never been submitted in 19 fights. I'm not too sure Igor has the skillset to be the first, but you never know. That's the beauty of MMA.
So, assuming this fight spends most of the time on the feet, that leaves us with a decently clear picture painted by the numbers. Both guys have actually been knocked out, but Igor takes this one with 4 KO losses to Jimmo's 1. This tells me that Jimmo will be looking to stay away from Pokrajac's BJJ with strikes all night. Perhaps Igor is planning to run the BJJ game ( he has 7 wins by submission), but if you've ever watched the guy fight you'd know he is very likely to get sucked into a fist fight.
My guess here is that the UFC brass is hoping to boost Jimmo's stock in this fight against a tough ass opponent like Igor, and the bout has all the makings of a memorable fight. Pokrajac has all the tools in his arsenal to take Jimmo out, especially considering Jimmo has a tendency to get overconfident during fights, but I'm not so sure that his chin will hold up long enough to make very many critical decisions. Speaking of, Jimmo has recently had a long string of decision wins, which may play well for Pokrajac, who doesn't see the end of very many fights. (win or lose).
Prediciton: Ryan Jimmo via Split Decision
Ryan Jimmo had fairly decent success in his early career picking the bones of fighters well past their primes. James Te-Huna, his best competition up to that point, handed him his first loss. Pokrajac, on the other hand, has put some fairly decent members of the UFC's old mid-card/prelim fighters to sleep. This is a battle between two knockout artists, so hopefully it doesn't become an awkward ground contest. I give this one to Jimmo with a Chuck Liddell overhand right somewhere in the second round.
Prediction: Ryan Jimmo wins via second round TKO.
Roy Nelson (19-7) Vs Stipe Miocic (9-1)
Roy Nelson took this fight on short notice.
Just had to get that out. Stipe come into this fight with many decorated battles, including wins over Pat Barry and Gray Maynard. Oh wait...that says Paul Barry and Greg Maynard. Okay, scratch that. Stipe Miocic steps into the Octagon fresh (a year ago) off his only pro loss to date against Stefan Struve. Prior to that, Stipe had been on a tear, defeating such fighters as Shane Del Rosario (man, he is all over this card tonight), Phil De Fries, and uhm...hmmm...Joey Beltran? Man, the more I try and hype this guy up, the worse he looks.
Roy Nelson needs no introduction, and has been at his best recently. I'm not sure what happened, but Nelson woke up and decided everyone had to die. Roy comes into this fight not only on a 3 fight win streak, but 3 devastating knockouts at that. Combine this with the fact that Stipe's only loss was in his last fight against Struve, which was a TKO, and this has all the makings of another feather in "Big Countrys" charge toward a title shot.
Granted, Roy has a habit of losing the big fights that matter most, and taking this fight on such short notice doesn't help the situation. Add in the fact that Stipe is 9-1, with 7 of those 9 wins coming by way of T/KO, and this fight could go anywhere. I suspect that Nelson will be able to handle Stipe's shots with his crazy granite chin, but I hope Nelson isn't planning on just eating punches in order to throw his big shots, because Roy may just find himself put down. Again, "Big Country" has only ever been stopped due to strikes once, but that doesn't mean it won't ever happen again. A smart Nelson should win this fight. His experience and time in MMA on the big stage will also help him against Miocic once the fight starts.
Miocic tends to finish early, winning most of his bouts by the 2nd round, so if this fight goes into deep waters it improves Nelsons chances drastically. Yes, Roy has lost some fights through decision, but Stipe's tendency to gas should eliminate that from the picture should the match go to the 3rd. I just don't see that coming from either fighter, and instead anticipate a big striking match between these two. If Stipe can be fast and crisp, he can take this one. However, one wrong move and Roy Nelson will put his ass to bed like Nyquil.
Prediction: Roy Nelson wins via 2nd Round TKO.
I would totally buy a duck call if Roy Nelson sold them. I don't even have anything to say to ducks either. Miocic is supremely underrated, but it feels like Nelson is currently at the top of his game. Nelson is pushing for a title and Miocic is pushing to get back into things. I wouldn't be surprised if the cage rust plays a part in this one. Miocic hasn't been around for a while and I'm pretty sure Roy Nelson just shows up at every card for the free backstage buffet. Big Country wins via first round clobberfists.
Prediction: Roy Nelson wins via first round TKO.
Rashad Evans (17-3) Vs Dan Henderson (29-9)
I'm going to let Derek take the reins on this one, as I've reviewed these two so many times it hurts just to think about. Both these guys need this win, so I expect them to come out hard from the bell. Dan Henderson will most likely throw caution to the wind in the early stages, looking to catch Evans on the chin with one of his blockbusters. Evans, from my perspective, will suddenly be "getting back to his roots" aka wrestling Dan to the canvas and keeping him there with ground and pound. Both guys pack a big punch like a fat kid's lunch, but I think Evans would be foolish to go out there and look for a boxing match with Hendo.
My guess is that Evans has watched a lot of tape on Dan, and is planning to drag Hendo into the late rounds in order to capitalize on Dan's gassing. Shogun was able to make a massive comeback against Hendo (who absolutely destroyed Shogun through the opening rounds) in their fight due to Dan's lack of cardio. "Suga" has a beastmode gas tank, and it will probably be one of his main weapons against Henderson. Look for Rashad to zip in and out with strikes just enough to open Dan up for the big takedowns.
Once on the ground, Evans will be able to tire and grind out Henderson much more safely. If Rashad cannot keep this fight on the mat, I suspect he will get knocked out once he himself starts losing pep in said step. While Hendo and Evans carry big power, nobody would stand here and say Evans is as good or better a KO king than Dan Henderson. If you and I know that, then you bet your ass Rashad and Henderson do too. I expect Dan's TD sprawl will be on point tonight, and he will be looking to capitalize on Evans want/need for the takedown with powerful counters.
Dan has never been knocked out, but has 14 wins by the KO. Both guys have a meager 2 sub wins each, so forget a BJJ fest on the mat. While it's true that both fighters have more decision wins than any other type (9 for Evans, 14 for Henderson), I just don't see that being the case tonight. Each guy needs a win too damn bad to chance ridiculous judges fkin' up their whole comeback. If it were to go to the D, Evans has a better chance of catching it due to his fight style, but he would have to still be on his absolute A game to pull it off. Dan tends to win decisions based on his early point, so kicking his ass in the final round will not get you the W.
For Evans, look for him to go full on GSP with Dan. I do think that EVans is dumb enough to trade with Hendo, but I think the first shot that seriously connects will put Evans directly onto Plan B, the takedown. Rashad will have a decent speed advantage, which he may use to get Dan swinging at air, but unless he utilizes those tiny seconds appropriately, we may just see another snoring Evans out on the mat. Imposing pure will VS gameplan is the only way this fight will go down. "Suga" is a smart fighter, but his chin in the past leads me to believe that Dan will find a home for his Captain America Falcon Punch tonight.
Prediction: Dan Henderson via 2nd Round KO
Every time I call a card, and have more finish predictions that decisions, the card ends up being mostly decision wins. Let us pray that I have not cursed us all to watching a boring night of fights!
I've already complained at length about how awful Evans looked in his last fight, and Henderson's last performance was equally lackluster. Henderson still has the ability to be a dynamic fighter, but his knees don't seem to give him the drive needed for takedowns and cage clinches. Many blame Machida's style for their boring fight, but Henderson came prepared with only a leg kick to a right hook. I've seen more moves out of a John Cena fight. If Henderson is recovered and able, I think his best bet of winning this is to keep it close quarters against the cage and grind Evans down with dirty boxing. Evans equally has the ability to come strong at any given time, but he arguably isn't mentally into fighting anymore. I don't think Evans is going to be the one to give Hendo his first KO, but he definitely has the power to do exactly that.
The two are wrestlers at heart but both have transitioned to more standup oriented fighting styles in recent years. I think Evans has more weapons in his arsenal to utilize in this fight, but I think Hendo executes his gameplan successfully far more often than Evans does. For that I give Hendo the advantage.