MMA Review: #419: UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson

-Just as the last show in Western Canada was hit with injuries, so too was this one. Initially pegged to feature a triple main event – Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland for the Interim Bantamweight Title, Shogun Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a rematch of their PRIDE classic, and Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans – we ended up with just one of the three fights still on the table as Barao and Nogueira both went down with injuries and Chael Sonnen, who offered to replace Nog, couldn’t get a Canadian Visa sorted. Sure, Zuffa tried to throw us a bone in Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic, but it couldn’t make up for the lack of a title fight, you know? On the plus side, this was the first PPV main event of 2013 to be scrapped due to injury, which made a welcome change from 2012!

UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson

Winnipeg, Manitoba

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Bantamweight Fight: Yves Jabouin vs Dustin Pague

This opener felt like the last chance saloon for Pague, who had lost his previous two bouts and was 1-3 overall in the UFC. It felt like Jabouin was also in jeopardy which wasn’t quite fair as while he’d lost his previous fight, before that he’d been on a three-fight win streak in the Octagon. My pick was Jabouin based on his striking and home country advantage.

Round One and the crowd are absolutely RED HOT. Naturally, as it’s a new city for the UFC. They should do this more often! Jabouin’s trunks look like he’s spilt toxic waste on them. He comes out throwing some kicks and lands a nasty one to the body of Pague. Pague goes for a takedown but Jabouin reverses and lands on top in guard. Triangle attempt from Pague but Jabouin postures free and drops some punches down over the top. Nice elbow lands for Jabouin but Pague gets a triangle armbar locked up! Yves lifts him and drops him back down to shake it off, and then drops some elbows down for good measure. Great round so far. Jabouin looks to pass the half-guard, but this time Pague traps the leg and looks for a possible heel hook. Man, chain those submissions! Jabouin looks incredibly calm given the situation and he sits up to attempt to free himself. It almost looks sunk, but evidently it can’t be or Jabouin would be tapping. They roll through and now Yves goes for his own heel hook, but Pague drops a right hand and they roll again. Looks like Pague’s almost got top position, and sure enough he drops some short elbows from half-guard. Full mount from Pague and he goes for an arm triangle, but Jabouin spins him over. Triangle attempt from Pague but Jabouin breaks free and OPENS UP with some serious ground-and-pound, wedging Pague’s head into the fence! Round ends with Jabouin on top. Tremendous round. I’ll call it 10-9 Jabouin for the damage done at the end, but you could easily go the other way too.

Round Two and they absolutely trade off to begin with both men landing hard strikes. Jabouin looks for the plum clinch but Pague TOSSES HIM ONTO HIS BACK with authority! Word. Pague lands in side mount and looks to move to full mount right away. Yves is in trouble. Good shots land for the TUF veteran before Jabouin gives his back. Pague looks to flatten him out using the body triangle and then goes for the rear naked choke, but Jabouin does just enough to survive. He turns over, but ends up mounted again and Pague keeps on landing shots. Hip escape from Jabouin puts him into half-guard and likely saves him from being stopped. Pague tries to work back into the mount, but Jabouin does a good job of catching the leg in half-guard. Reversal attempt from Jabouin and Pague goes for a triangle, but slips and ends up on his back in guard. Jabouin looks very tired here though and doesn’t do much. Armbar attempt from Pague but Yves avoids it and drops a hard elbow. Seconds remaining and it looks like Jabouin’s looking to wait out the round while landing the odd elbow. Round ends there. 10-9 Pague to even things up.

Round Three and Jabouin comes out swinging before hitting a trip to guard. Surprised he’d go for that given how offensive Pague’s guard has been. Both men look a bit tired now though and Jabouin manages to posture up to land some short elbows. More hammer fists and short elbows from Yves and he avoids an oma plata attempt. Referee Adam Cheadle calls a stand-up with about half the round remaining. Spinning kick misses for Jabouin and Pague lands a blatantly illegal knee with Jabouin on his knees. Ref totally misses it as Pague blocks a takedown attempt and looks to spin to take the back. They scramble and Pague flips him over and takes full mount, where he lands some solid elbows. Reversal from Jabouin but he lands right in a fully locked triangle armbar. Pague can’t quite finish it though and Jabouin pops free into the guard. Seconds to go and he tries some ineffective ground-and-pound, and then Pague locks up another triangle. He can’t finish it though and that’s the round. 10-9 Pague and I think it’s 29-28 for him overall.

Official scores are 29-28 Pague, 29-28 Jabouin and 29-28….for Yves Jabouin to take the split decision. Crowd pop as he’s the Canadian guy but I think that was a bogus decision, sorry. I could see the first round for Jabouin but I mean, he was dominated for the majority of the second and I don’t see how him laying on top with a couple of elbow strikes in the third beats Pague’s mount and submission attempts. But hey it’s MMA judging, why even waste time complaining at this point? Really good fight at least.

Lightweight Fight: Mitch Clarke vs John Maguire

After losing his previous two bouts due to being undersized at 170lbs, Brit Maguire was making the obvious drop to 155lbs here to attempt to revive his career. Opponent Clarke meanwhile hadn’t been seen since the ill-fated UFC 149 almost a year beforehand. In fact I figured he’d probably been cut from the UFC! Then again, it would’ve been hard for Zuffa to cut a guy with the nickname ‘Danger Zone’. I mean, come on!

Round One and they trade some punches to begin with Clarke throwing in a couple of low kicks too. Both men land some shots although neither lands anything really damaging. Lot of low kicks landing for Clarke. Clarke is really putting his strikes together well here. Halfway through the round and Maguire takes an eye poke, causing the ref to call time. Both men get warned to keep closed fists, and they restart. Maguire picks up the pace a little but Clarke catches him with a glancing head kick. Takedown attempt from Maguire and he spins to take the back standing. Clarke grabs onto a kimura as Maguire considers a suplex or a trip. Maguire frees his arm and gets a rear waistlock, but Clarke throws a back elbow that lands nicely. Clarke locks up the kimura again to prevent a suplex, but Maguire hops onto the back with both hooks in the lemur position. Clarke manages to shake him off, but Maguire still has the rear waistlock. Good job from Clarke to turn into the clinch, and they separate with thirty seconds to go. Head kick glances for Clarke. Takedown attempt from Maguire and he takes the back again, but can’t do much with it and the round ends with Clarke elbowing at the arm. 10-9 Clarke.

Round Two and Clarke pushes forward again, backing Maguire up a bit with his strikes. He’s doing a good job of landing shots and then moving out of the way of the Brit’s counters. Kick is caught though and Maguire gets a takedown to guard. Action really slows down from there and the crowd begin to boo as Maguire lands short body punches but little else. Few open hand strikes land for Maguire but don’t seem to do much. Clarke looks to scoot back towards the fence, and reaches for the kimura on the left arm for good measure. Crowd are furious with this. Clarke uses the fence to reverse and work back to his feet, and from there he looks for a single leg of his own. He can’t get it and they end up clinched on the fence exchanging knees and foot stomps. Clarke seems to be outworking Maguire. Ref calls a break with seconds to go and Clarke continues to work the inside leg kicks. Takedown attempt from Maguire and he manages to get the back and trip Clarke down, but he can’t finish and the round ends there. 10-9 Clarke I’d say as despite being in worse positions he did more on offense than Maguire.

Round Three and Clarke again pushes forward before landing a hard knee as he stuffs a takedown. Good left hand connects for Maguire but Clarke answers back with a combo. More kicks set up a clinch and Clarke forces Maguire into the fence. Foot stomps from Clarke but little else happens as they muscle for position. Ref calls a clean break with just under three minutes to go. Takedown attempt from Maguire and again he manages to take the back with a rear waistlock. This time he drags Clarke down and gets both hooks in, then switches to a body triangle. Crowd begin to boo as little happens, with Clarke seeming content to stay in the position as Maguire’s not really going for anything. Seconds to go and Clarke manages to turn into him and escape, then drops into side mount. Big shots land for Clarke before Maguire manages to get full guard back to end the fight. 10-9 Clarke and a surprising 30-27.

Judges score it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Mitch Clarke, who goes WILD in celebration. Nice to see a guy celebrating like that and he did well to pick up a win in a fight where I thought he was overmatched, but if we’re honest the fight wasn’t great, with tons of slow spots and Maguire seeming oddly flat from the start.

Bantamweight Fight: Roland Delorme vs Edwin Figueroa

Literally got nothing to say about this fight, sorry – when you’re checking Wikipedia to remind yourself of who the fighters took on last then you know it’s an unremarkable match. In fact I tend to confuse Figueroa with both Francisco Rivera AND Reuben Duran which just isn’t good at all.

First round and Delorme charges right through a flurry in order to set up a takedown. He gets it, but Figueroa springs back up. Delorme does a good job of grabbing him though and he takes the back with a rear waistlock and trips him down. Figueroa scrambles and almost winds up in Roland’s guard, but Delorme does a great job of staying in back control. Another scramble follows but it ends badly for Figueroa again as he ends up in a triangle. Elbows land for Delorme and he switches off to an armbar, but Figueroa manages to escape and ends up in Roland’s guard. Crowd are absolutely NUCLEAR for Delorme. Figueroa quietens them though by posturing up to drop some heavy blows over the top. Heel hook attempt from Delorme allows him to reverse though and he gets on top before passing into a mounted crucifix. Delorme controls him from there and lands some shots before taking the back with an over/under as Figueroa scrambles. He slaps on a body triangle and then traps the right arm in order to set up a Penn-esque choke, but Figueroa does a tremendous job of avoiding it somehow. Round ends though with Roland in firm control. 10-9 Delorme.

Second round and Delorme shoots instantly. Figueroa manages to defend and lands some punches to the head, but he makes the mistake of not exiting and Delorme takes the back standing and trips him down. Couple of punches from Delorme before Figueroa manages to roll into guard. Figueroa tries a triangle of his own now and it looks locked up! He sweeps into a mounted variant, but Delorme manages to survive it and rolls through back into the guard. The triangle is still on but Delorme’s basically free, and sure enough he postures up to drop some ground-and-pound. Side mount for the TUF veteran and then he transitions to take the back with the body triangle again. Figueroa manages to scramble once more though and he finds himself in Delorme’s guard. Armbar attempt from Delorme but he can’t lock it up. Big punches and elbows from Figueroa from the top. Delorme looks for a reversal and manages to get to his feet, and from there he drags Figueroa back down and takes the back again. Seconds to go and they end the round in a really odd position on the ground with Delorme in control by triangling one leg. 10-9 Delorme in a fun round.

Third round and they openly trade strikes with Figueroa getting the better of it. Delorme shoots in and gets a clinch though, and from there he drags Edwin down brilliantly before looking for mount. Figueroa goes for a heel hook, but Delorme escapes and takes the back again. Both hooks in again and both men are looking tired. Body triangle from Delorme but Figueroa stands with him clamped to his back. He ends up giving that up probably due to fatigue, but then he manages to hit a suplex to get Figueroa back down. He slips off though and we’re back to standing. Good punches from Figueroa back Delorme up, but he comes back with a knee that sets up a takedown. Figueroa manages to stuff it though and they’re back to standing. Holy shit is Delorme tired. Good left hook lands for Figueroa but Delorme manages to grab him and this time he gets him down into half-guard. Into side mount for Delorme and he moves from there into north/south. Back to side mount and then he takes the back as Figueroa looks to reverse. One minute to go and Roland hooks a leg and it looks like he might be going for a twister of all things. Instead Figueroa scrambles to take top position in half-guard, and then postures up to BOUNCE DELORME’S HEAD AROUND WITH PUNCHES! Round ends with Figueroa dropping more bombs. 10-9 Figueroa but it’s too little, too late in my eyes.

Official scores are 29-28 all round for Roland Delorme. Judges got that one right at least and I thought it was a closer fight than Pague/Jabouin in a lot of ways as Figueroa did quite a bit of damage when he was able to get on top or get some distance on the feet. The main story of the fight though was Delorme’s ultra-aggressive grappling game, as once he closed the distance on Figueroa he was almost always able to take him down and go right into a dominant position. Great fight though as both men pushed a torrid pace and went for it from start to finish, looking to end the fight until the very end, which is all you can ask for really!

Welterweight Fight: Sean Pierson vs Kenny Robertson

This was another fight that didn’t really interest me coming in, despite Robertson having won his previous fight with one of the best submissions I’ve ever seen in the UFC – the sick hamstring ripper that he hit on Brock Jardine at UFC 157. I dunno, Pierson has just never really impressed me and I can’t get excited for his fights at all for some reason.

Round One and Robertson pushes forward but walks into a pair of counter rights that drop him to a knee. He pops up right away though but he’s clearly struggling to get inside even in the opening seconds of the fight. Takedown attempt from Robertson but Pierson defends well and sprawls out while controlling him with a front facelock. Robertson keeps driving forward though and gets him down, then takes the back in a nice transition. Body triangle from Robertson but Pierson scrambles free and gets to his feet, holding a front headlock again with Robertson on his knees. He switches to look for a front choke, but can’t get it and Robertson pops up into the clinch. Good knees from Pierson as he pins Robertson into the fence, and then they break off. Action slows down as Pierson looks to land counters when Robertson bulls forward. Nice straight left from Pierson but Robertson manages to clinch. Trip attempt but Pierson reverses and gets to his feet. They scramble for a whizzer and go to the ground again, but once more Pierson sprawls out and grabs the front headlock. Looks like he’s going to spin to the back, but instead he stands and continues to defend the takedown. Back to the feet and Robertson looks a bit tired. Nice counter combo from Pierson as he lands an uppercut flush as Robertson comes forward. Another combo seems to have Robertson a little rocked, but the buzzer goes before Pierson can follow up. 10-9 Pierson.

Round Two and they exchange some early strikes with Robertson connecting on a decent body kick. He tries to close the distance again but Pierson shoves him off. Head kick glances for Pierson. He’s clearly outlanding Robertson quite comfortably here. Spinning backfist almost catches him though, nice move from Robertson. Both men are throwing a lot of feints here but they’re not landing all that much. Robertson looks exhausted. Head kick and a straight left land for Pierson and cause Robertson to shoot, but Pierson blocks it and again grabs a front facelock. This time he slips though and Robertson manages to put him on his back with about two minutes to go. He ends up in half-guard with Robertson looking to advance. Pierson works back to full guard and ties him up and the action really slows down. Surprised the ref hasn’t called a restart here. Round ends with Robertson grinding in the guard. Erm, I’d still go 10-9 Pierson there despite Robertson having top position. Round sucked though.

Round Three and Robertson tags Pierson with a right hand in an exchange. Another one wobbles Pierson BADLY and he’s on the run as Robertson charges in swinging. Pierson tries to grab him to prevent the flurry, but he can’t get hold of him and Robertson follows up and drops him. Pierson dives on a single leg but he’s having a lot of difficulty regaining his faculties. Robertson blocks it and grabs a headlock, then transitions to take the back with both hooks. Punches land for Robertson but really he’s let Pierson off the hook here. Action slows down as Robertson continues to chip away with short punches but little else. Pierson tries to roll free, but he continues to take punches. He isn’t close to being finished though and Robertson clearly needs a finish to win I’d say. Finally he looks for the choke, but in doing so he loses the position and Pierson gets on top to end the fight. 10-9 Robertson but 29-28 Pierson overall.

Judges officially call it 29-28, 29-28 and 28-28 (!) for Sean Pierson by majority decision. I guess one judge gave Robertson a 10-8 third which is interesting. Let’s be frank here though, this fight sucked outside of the period in the third round where Robertson had Pierson all wobbly. There was just nothing memorable going on really, just Pierson eeking out the striking exchanges while avoiding Robertson’s takedowns.

Lightweight Fight: James Krause vs Sam Stout

Stout was originally meant to face Isaac Vallie-Flagg here but when IVF got injured, Krause stepped in to take his UFC debut instead. All I remembered about Krause really was his unremarkable WEC run, but to be fair to him (outside of a loss on the TUF 15 qualifiers) he’d been on a solid streak since then, and anyone who’s confident enough to have a nickname like THE James Krause is cool in my book. Still figured he’d lose, of course.

Fight begins and man Krause is a big 155lber. Stout begins by throwing some low kicks as Krause looks to gauge the distance. Clinch from Stout and he looks for the takedown, but Krause spins him around and forces him into the fence. They muscle for position and Stout breaks off. Stout continues to strike from the outside as Krause looks to catch him with some straight punches. Krause is beginning to use his reach with the jab now. Big front kick to the face and a follow-up knee send Stout down, and Krause follows up with a flurry of punches. He’s got Stout on the run here but the Canadian seems recovered. Krause continues to outstrike him though, really using his size and reach well. Overhand left connects nicely for Krause but a kick causes Stout to get a takedown. Krause hits a reversal though and winds up in Stout’s guard. Someone is cut badly and it’s Stout; his right eye is busted up. Ton of blood here. Krause works him with some elbows from the guard before Stout reverses to his feet. Snapping jab lands for Krause. Stout pushes forward with strikes but holy shit is he badly cut. Like a movie type cut with blood running down his face. Cartwheel kick glances for Krause. Round ends with Krause continuing to use his range well. 10-9 Krause.

Into the 2nd and Stout comes out and drops Krause with a right, catching him off balance. He’s not hurt though and he pops back up and picks up where he left off, cracking Stout with strikes from the outside. Krause is looking awesome here. He’s going to the body and head and consistently catching Stout cleanly. Good left hook to the body finally slows Krause down a little, but it doesn’t seem like Stout realises how badly he’s hurt and so he doesn’t follow up really aggressively. Good body kick from Krause and he seems recovered. Takedown from Krause and he takes the back for a second before Stout rolls and ends up in guard. Nice ground-and-pound from Krause who postures up to deliver some shots downwards. Stout reverses to his feet and lands with a body kick. Couple of nice jabs from Krause but Stout eats them right up. Good leg kicks from Stout. One minute to go and Stout’s beginning to land some more shots now as Krause slows down a little. Takedown attempt from Krause but Stout reverses and puts him on his back in guard. Not long to go though and Krause ties him up with rubber guard before the round ends with Stout getting through with some elbows. 10-9 Krause but the round was much closer.

Third and final round and they trade off to open with both men landing. Stout is really pushing the pace now, obviously clear that he’s behind on the scorecards. Good jabs land for Krause. Flying knee from Krause but Stout’s chin takes it. Good leg kick from Stout. Nice superman punch lands for Krause. Exchange sees both men connect. They’re basically going strike-for-strike in this round. Neither man looks at all tired which is impressive as this fight has been fought at a high pace. Body kick from Stout answers a couple of jabs from Krause. Exchange continues and both men are still landing, but Krause is beginning to use that range again. Less than a minute to go now and Stout tries to walk him down and then shoots and hits a takedown. Krause grabs a guillotine literally from NOWHERE though and then sweeps him over into mount! Stout manages to fight his way back into top position….but Krause tightens up the choke and STOUT TAPS. God damn!

Great fight overall and a great debut for James Krause as you’ve got to think it was his decision had the fight gone another fifteen or so seconds. The finish was just the icing on the cake for the guy when you consider that Stout hadn’t been finished since Kenny Florian choked him out back in 2006! If he can continue to fight in that way – using his reach and movement to pick guys apart – and he’s not really weak on the ground or anything like that then I think this guy could go far. While Krause ended up with the win here, Stout was game throughout the fight as you expect with him and it made for probably the best fight on the card thus far.

Welterweight Fight: Jake Shields vs Tyron Woodley

Alright, so call me crazy but I was PUMPED for this fight? Why? Because I’m a big fan of Woodley’s and after his wild UFC debut that saw him destroy Jay Hieron, I thought Shields was the perfect match for him and he’d be able to use his wrestling to keep the fight standing and smash Jake up like he’d done with Hieron. Harsh for Shields, I know, but let’s be fair, the guy has basically outlived his usefulness at the top of the Welterweight division at this point.

Round One and Woodley lunges forward with a right hand to counter a low kick right away, backing Shields up a little. Shields throws some more kicks out and he’s also visibly reaching with an open hand, ugh. Short right hand lands for Woodley. Hard leg kick from Woodley drops Shields for a second but he pops back up. Few jabs glance for Shields and he continues to throw low kicks too. Kick from Woodley is caught and Shields looks for the takedown, but Woodley stuffs it and forces him into the fence in a clinch. They exchange some knees inside and Shields tries to get him down again but fails. Good body punches from Woodley. Ref calls a clean break and they restart. Leaping right hand misses for Woodley. Woodley looks fucking HUGE here for 170lbs. Two minutes to go and Shields presses forward but his strikes look largely ineffective. Overhand right glances for Woodley and he follows with a straight right to counter a low kick. Body kick from Shields but Woodley fires right back with a hard low kick. Single leg attempt from Shields but Woodley stuffs it again and they wind up clinched. Action slows up outside of some nasty body punches from Woodley. Shields still can’t even come close to getting him down and the round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Woodley but not really an impressive round.

Round Two and Shields pushes forward, but Woodley pegs him back with a pair of right hands. Nasty leg kick takes Shields off his feet again. Shields just keeps throwing low kicks and weak jabs. Body kick from Woodley is caught and Shields goes for a single, but Tyron stuffs it and they end up clinched. They muscle for position and Woodley prevents Shields from tripping him down, and really little happens from there. Some good knees to the body connect for Woodley but the crowd begin to boo a little. Shields manages to secure a front facelock, so Woodley drops to his knees to avoid any head strikes, and then pops back up. Man, Shields’ strikes just seem to have no power. They break off and Woodley glances on a right hand and then lands a leg kick. Superman punch misses. Decent body kick from Shields and he shoots, but Woodley stuffs it again and we’re back to the clinch. They exchange some more knees before Yves Lavigne calls a break with seconds to go. Leg kick from Shields and then they trade kicks and that’s it. 10-9 Woodley. Crap fight though.

Round Three and Woodley comes out swinging a bit, but takes some pawing jabs and low kicks from Shields on his way forward. Another takedown attempt is shrugged off by Woodley and they muscle for position in the clinch. Really quick break called by Yves this time and they restart. Shields continues to come forward with his strikes, but outside of the odd body kick he’s not landing with much power. Back to the clinch and they exchange more body shots much to the annoyance of the crowd. Another clean break ensues. Two minutes to go and Woodley glances on some big shots. BRUTAL spinning backfist wobbles Shields badly, but somehow he remains standing and goes for a takedown. Woodley stuffs it of course and we’re back to the clinch. Yawn. I hate watching Jake Shields, sorry. From there it’s more of the same with Woodley landing much heavier blows but Shields landing more. Ref calls another break and Woodley lands on a body kick to counter some punches. Another takedown is stuffed by Woodley and he swings some more punches but can’t connect cleanly. Back to the clinch and the fight ends there. I’d have it 30-27 Woodley.

Judges call it a split decision; 30-27 Woodley, but somehow two 29-28’s for Shields. Urgh. No idea how that fight went to Shields at all. I mean sure he slightly outlanded Woodley in terms of volume, but in terms of what the strikes were actually DOING then it’s Tyron’s fight all day long, dude. And yeah, the fight sucked but I don’t think you can blame Woodley as it was Shields’ crap clinching gameplan that made it stall out like that. If you can blame Tyron for anything it’s probably overthinking the problem of Shields, similar to how Akiyama did in his fight with Jake – the guy has this weird stand-up style where he’s active but isn’t doing much damage and yet somehow guys get mesmerised by it and don’t actually hit him. Terrible fight but personally I’m offering Woodley a free pass for it.

Heavyweight Fight: Shawn Jordan vs Pat Barry

Lucky I’m not booking UFC cards or I would’ve had Shields/Woodley on the main card instead of this! Ha. Anyway, both men were coming off knockout wins – Barry over Shane Del Rosario; Jordan over Mike Russow – and as HW is always thin UFC are always looking for a chance to push someone big who can KO guys and so this was made the PPV opener. I was expecting an exciting striking war that Barry would likely come out on top of.

Fight begins and they circle before Jordan just about deflects a big head kick. Crowd are behind Barry. Right hands connect for both men. Low kick from Barry. Suddenly Jordan rushes him and CLOCKS HIM WITH A PAIR OF UPPERCUTS! Barry looks in trouble and Jordan swarms on him and seals the deal.

Well, that woke the crowd up after the last crappy fight! Whole fight went like a minute and went exactly how Zuffa must’ve hoped with two big dudes throwing punches until one went down. Barry remains the biggest enigma on the UFC roster as he’s literally ALWAYS win one, lose one, looking spectacular one minute and terrible the next. Well, I guess he didn’t look terrible here, it was more that Jordan caught him before he caught Jordan and with dudes this big, once you get clocked it’s usually over. Solid win for Jordan but I don’t think you can look that deeply into it. Fun finish however.

Women’s Bantamweight Fight: Alexis Davis vs Rosi Sexton

You know, since the division was introduced into the UFC at the start of this year I’m actually beginning to get into Women’s MMA a bit more – most of the fights seem exciting at least – and so I was looking forward to this one, as Davis was coming in with quite a bit of hype as one of the top fighters in the division. Brit Sexton meanwhile was seen as very skilled and a true veteran, but really undersized for the division (she normally fights at 125lbs) and so Davis was the heavy favourite.

First round and they trade punches from the off with both women getting tagged early on. This is a brawl. Davis decides to clinch and force Rosi back into the fence, landing some knees, but Rosi fires right back with punches. Davis really uses the plum clinch well, landing knees to the body and head. Takedown attempt from Davis but the Brit fights off the trip nicely. They break off and continue to trade punches, and then Rosi goes for a takedown but Davis stuffs it and spins over to take the back with both hooks. She ends up turning over to go for a triangle, but winds up on the bottom in guard. Sexton postures up but the triangle looks like it’s locked in. Alexis tightens it up and hooks the leg for good measure, but Sexton answers by landing some wild punches to the face. This looks like a completely locked triangle though and I have no idea how she isn’t tapping. Less than a minute to go and Davis gives up the triangle, then locks it back in despite eating some more punches. Seconds remaining and it looks like Sexton’s going to survive. This might be the longest I’ve ever seen someone in a triangle! Round ends with the triangle STILL locked in. 10-9 Davis.

Second round and they trade punches again to begin with both girls again eating shots. They clinch up and Davis lands a knee inside and a hard elbow, but Sexton drives her into the fence and looks for the takedown. Nice whizzer from Rosi sets up a takedown to side mount, but Alexis manages to lock down half-guard. Leglock attempt from Davis sets up a nice reversal and she gets on top in half-guard. Full guard from Rosi, but Davis postures up to drop some punches. More shots connect for Alexis and she ends up kneeling on Rosi’s face as she postures out of a possible submission. Davis takes the back with one hook and continues to land, then begins to look for the choke. It looks like it might be sunk but of course Rosi’s a Brit and she refuses to tap and swings some punches back at Alexis. Davis gives up on the choke to land some more punches, then slaps the second hook in. Less than a minute to go now and Davis flattens Rosi out and lands some unanswered punches, and you could probably make a case for stopping the fight. Rosi moves just about enough to stop Herb Dean from doing so, and the round ends there. 10-9 Davis, very close to a 10-8 in fact.

Third round and Rosi to her credit comes out swinging, but she seems pretty exhausted and her punches look like they’ve lost a lot of pop. Davis doesn’t exactly look fresh herself though to be fair. Takedown attempt from Davis but Rosi sprawls nicely and gets a reversal to take top position. Davis goes for a leglock though and that allows her to take Rosi’s back with one hook. Davis is a pretty sick grappler. Body triangle follows as Rosi attempts to roll free. Choke attempt from Davis is nicely defended again by Rosi, but as she tries to force herself into Alexis’ guard, Davis looks to slap the triangle back on. Rosi manages to avoid that and gets into top position in the guard, but she’s taking as many punches as she’s giving at this stage. Still, she manages to keep top position at least. One minute to go and Rosi begins to land some nice shots, but Davis spins around to reverse and almost gives her back, but the Brit slips off and Davis winds up on top. Davis begins to work some ground-and-pound, and the fight ends with an upkick from Sexton. 10-9 Davis and a 30-27 overall in my eyes.

Judges have it 29-28, 29-27 and 29-28 for Alexis Davis. Fun fight throughout really with some excellent exchanges on the feet and on the ground. The difference seemed to be Davis’s size advantage as Rosi couldn’t really do much with her standing despite landing punches, and on the ground Alexis looked slightly superior in skill but WAY superior in strength and power. It was surprising really that Davis wasn’t able to tap Rosi with the triangle in the first and the choke in the second but hey, Rosi is a true Brit and she’s clearly as tough as nails. Another very good fight from the women, too, and at this point I’m a believer and I’m glad we’ve got the division in the UFC.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Ryan Jimmo vs Igor Pokrajac

This fight got promoted to the main card (ahead of Woodley/Shields! Boo! Erm, yay?) after Shogun/Sonnen was scrapped, and honestly it wasn’t that inspiring to me for some reason even though, boring reputation notwithstanding, I sort-of like Jimmo. With Jimmo’s sharper striking game and solid takedown defense I figured he’d handle Pokrajac to take a decision.

Round One and Igor comes out swinging, backing Jimmo up. Jimmo responds by clinching and forcing him into the cage with some knees to the body. Yves Lavigne calls a break quite quickly and they restart, but go RIGHT BACK to the clinch with literally nothing else between. Well, that renders the break pointless. Good knees land inside for Jimmo and then Yves breaks them again. Jimmo’s stance looks like Machida. Low kicks from Jimmo and he lands a solid jab too. Pokrajac rushes him with punches and then goes for a takedown, but Jimmo defends. Good knees inside from Pokrajac and Jimmo seems to be watching something in the crowd. Maybe he spotted a hot girl or something, who knows? Yves calls another quick separation but Pokrajac grabs Jimmo from a flurry and shoves him right back into the fence. Nice right hand breaks for Jimmo this time but Pokrajac rushes him and clinches again. This round is AWFUL. Knees to the legs connect for Jimmo but again Yves has to call the break. One minute to go and Igor misses a head kick. Good low kick from Jimmo. Igor rushes forward and really swings, but he can’t connect and this time Jimmo shrugs off the clinch. Good jab from Jimmo. Igor keeps chasing him though and lands om a hard right hand, then continues with a flurry. Jimmo fires right back as we finally get some action, but Pokrajac clinches again and that’s the round. Ugh. 10-9 Jimmo I guess.

Round Two and they circle with Jimmo throwing out some low kicks. Big right hook connects for Jimmo and Pokrajac wobbles and then drops HARD, but Jimmo can’t finish him before he pops up and manages to clinch. Trip takedown from Jimmo and he lands on top in full guard. Igor manages to tie Jimmo up a bit and restrict him to a few decent blows, but Jimmo postures up to drop some effective elbows. Jimmo continues to grind away in the guard, doing his best impression of Jon Fitch with the punches and short elbows, just enough not to be stood up but not enough to really have Igor in any trouble. Pokrajac does a decent job himself of landing elbows from his back, and then he catches Jimmo with an upkick as he postures up. Jimmo shrugs off a triangle attempt though and takes side mount. Round ends with Jimmo in firm control. 10-9 Jimmo.

Round Three and Jimmo bounces around a little, but Pokrajac closes distance with a flurry that causes the Canadian to clinch. Trip attempt from Pokrajac and he gets Jimmo down, but Jimmo uses the momentum to flip him over and he gets on top in guard. Good wrist control from Igor prevents Jimmo from doing much damage, but of course Jimmo manages to do just enough work to prevent Yves from calling a stand-up. This is a really dull fight. Not genuinely offensive or anything but even Goldie’s calls are sounding like video game soundbites now. Guillotine attempt from Pokrajac but Jimmo doesn’t really look in danger. Sure enough Jimmo works his head free and continues to feed the Croatian some elbows. One minute to go and Pokrajac escapes to his feet, but Jimmo stays clinched on him and keeps him on the fence. Good knee to the head from Igor. Pokrajac seems to be begging Yves for a break and the ref obliges. Igor comes forward swinging, but Jimmo meets him with a jab and another clinch and that’s it. 10-9 Jimmo and a 30-27, but that fight SUCKED.

Indeed the judges all have it 30-27 for Ryan Jimmo. Well, Jimmo came into the UFC with a boring reputation and while his first two fights didn’t live up to that, this one certainly did. Outside of the one big right hand in the second round this was an awful, dull fight with not much action at all. Total yawner with maximum clinching. Jimmo at least shows some charisma in his post-fight interview but that doesn’t make up for it!

Heavyweight Fight: Roy Nelson vs Stipe Miocic

Originally Miocic was supposed to face Soa Palelei on this card, but when it lost two of the three key fights, the word was that Nelson was added instead to help bolster the interest. In reality a lot of him taking the fight had to do with the fact that he had one fight left on his contract, and he was deciding to roll the dice and try to pick up another win to get more money (or a title shot) rather than sign a new one right away. I guess he figured after Stefan Struve KOd Miocic then the Croatian-American would be easy picking, but I was actually taking Stipe to win, figuring his wrestling game would allow him to take Nelson down if he needed, and his underrated Muay Thai could allow him to avoid Roy’s big haymaker right and pick him apart. Only for a decision, mind, as nobody can knock Roy out!

Round One and Miocic opens with a leg kick and begins to circle away from the right hand of Nelson. Faked takedown sets up an overhand right for Nelson but Miocic avoids it. Couple of jabs and a nice straight right land for Miocic. Jabs answer for Nelson. Good leg kick from Stipe. Miocic continues to circle out to avoid the big haymaker. Beautiful counter combo lands for Miocic. Single leg attempt fails though and Miocic forces him into the fence in the clinch. They break quickly and Miocic dodges a rush from Roy and clocks him with another right hand. Good right to the body from Nelson. Miocic catches him again with a counter right hand though and then follows with a hard combo. Miocic’s movement is allowing him to beat Nelson to the punch. Roy goes for a takedown but Miocic sprawls and spins to take the back, landing a couple of shots before Nelson spins away. Same thing happens again as Nelson shoots after taking a combo, but Miocic stuffs it and lands some short punches. Crowd pop on a right hand from Nelson but it looked more like a slip from Miocic. Roy looks gassed already as he keeps winging haymakers. BIG COMBO lands for Miocic and Nelson looks badly hurt, wobbling all over the place. He tries to grab Stipe but it doesn’t work and Miocic opens up with another huge flurry! Nelson is in trouble. He manages to clinch though to slow Stipe down, once again showing his ridiculous chin. Seconds to go and they break off, and Miocic circles out and lands another jab. Easy 10-9 for Miocic who worked his gameplan to perfection in that round.

Round Two and Miocic opens with a sharp leg kick and continues to circle around. Nelson looks absolutely exhausted. Big combination lands for Miocic again, ending with a knee that wobbles Roy. Nelson is being OWNED here. Beautiful movement from Miocic allows him to dodge some haymakers, and he pops Roy with another big straight right. Another combo has Roy on the run and Miocic closes him down and throws in a leg kick for good measure too. Nelson has to clinch and he’s literally gasping for breath. Can’t fault the guy’s chin but his cardio stinks. Elbow breaks for Miocic and Nelson looks busted up. He’s dropping his hands at an alarming rate now too. Beautiful body kick from Stipe. More shots land for Stipe and a big straight right and a knee wobble Nelson again. Takedown attempt from Miocic is stuffed though. Another combo lands for Miocic. Big uppercut glances for Nelson though and Stipe circles out of the way before landing another combo. He’s mixing up his offense brilliantly too. Nelson tries to close Stipe down but it’s to no avail as the speed difference is that massive at this point. Hard right hook sets up another nice combo from Miocic. Clinch follows with seconds to go. Round ends as they break. Clear 10-9 Miocic and this is looking like a whitewash.

Round Three and Miocic opens with a series of jabs and avoids the wild overhand right. A faked single leg from Miocic sets up a good right cross of his own. More shots land and Nelson’s chin still holds up. Takedown is easily shrugged off by Stipe. Again Miocic fakes a takedown in order to set up a straight right. Big haymaker is easily avoided by Stipe. Stats show Miocic wildly ahead in strikes landed. Nelson chases after him with haymakers but Miocic smartly avoids and gets out of the way. Counter right does land for Nelson but Miocic is fine. Nelson is hanging his hand by his waist. Single leg from Miocic and he plants Roy down. Nelson looks to stand and ends up on all fours taking punches, but he manages to get to his feet in the clinch. Short elbow lands nicely for Stipe. Ref calls a break and Roy is sucking enough wind to deprive the front row of oxygen. Again a couple of haymakers miss by a mile. One minute to go and Miocic continues to land and move, land and move. Back into the clinch and Nelson manages to force Miocic into the fence for a moment before they break. Nice combination ends the fight for Miocic. Total shutout; 30-27 for Stipe Miocic.

Judges all agree with me and it’s 30-27’s all around for Miocic. Was there ever any doubt? This was an eye-opening performance from both men really – for Miocic it showed that he’s got genuine elite-level talent and I think he’s a legit title contender in 2014 (and in an added note, with Miocic, Browne, Duffee, Rosholt et al the HW division seems to have a bright future….) and for Nelson it showed why he ISN’T an elite-level contender as he just had zero answer for Miocic’s gameplan. Basically he’s become a one-dimensional puncher who swings haymakers and gasses early now, and if he can’t land that haymaker or if the opponent can get out of his way, then he’s probably not going to win. Miocic looked fantastic here, staying on the move throughout, landing some beautiful combinations and he also showed smarts, faking his takedowns in order to set up big shots and then throwing in a couple of takedowns too to confuse Roy. If you’re going to criticise then I guess it became a bit repetitive, but I thought this was a great fight to watch just to see how much punishment Nelson could take!

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Rashad Evans vs Dan Henderson

While on paper this sounded like a really intriguing match, when you actually think about it it’s understandable why it didn’t draw big numbers on PPV – neither man had looked great in their previous fights and seemed miles away from a fight with Jon Jones at this point. Still, I was interested to see how it’d go down given both men fight with almost a similar style, but I was leaning towards Rashad based on his superior speed and the fact that I thought he’d be able to take Dan down if he needed to despite Henderson’s wrestling credentials.

First round and Hendo takes the center of the cage as Rashad circles around. Jab connects for Rashad. Henderson rushes in with a pair of rights but they don’t land cleanly and Rashad forces him back with a quick flurry. Another flurry from Evans looks to set up a takedown but Henderson shrugs him off and backs him up with a right. Nice combination lands for Rashad and has Hendo covering up. Henderson can’t seem to get into range early on here. Takedown attempt from Evans and he forces Hendo back into the cage when the former PRIDE champ blocks it. They muscle around the cage for a moment before Henderson shrugs him off and escapes. Another takedown attempt by Evans is blocked and Henderson breaks the clinch with a right hand. Good uppercut from Hendo in tight. Jab from Rashad. Mild crowd chant for Henderson and he obliges by dropping Rashad with a jab! Evans pops up but he looks wobbled and Henderson comes wading in with some wild right hands, but he can’t quite land cleanly. Hendo ends up backing out and Rashad seems just about recovered. Seconds to go in the round but neither man seems able to pull the trigger. 10-9 Henderson in a razor-close round.

Second round and again it’s a bit of a tentative beginning before Rashad shoots and gets Henderson down. Hendo tries to use a whizzer to get up and does so, but Rashad grabs a rear waistlock as he stands. Henderson turns into him and we end up with the regular clinch, but he can’t get Rashad off him. Good right hook breaks for Rashad and another one seems to have Henderson slightly hurt. He fires right back though by grabbing a headlock to land a knee and following with an uppercut. Big right hand misses wildly for Hendo but it does force Rashad to circle out. Quick trade of punches sees Rashad force Henderson back into the clinch. Right hand breaks for Rashad. Rashad continues to play the aggressor in this round, pegging Henderson back although he isn’t landing much. Takedown attempt is blocked by Henderson and he throws Rashad off him. One minute to go. Combo from Rashad sets up a takedown attempt but Henderson defends and breaks with a sharp elbow. Round peters out with a bit of a staring contest. Close round but I’d call it 10-9 Rashad that time as he was the aggressor and seemed to land the better strikes.

Third and final round and this could definitely still go either way. They begin pretty tentatively again with both men pushing forward but neither landing. Right hands connect from both men but Rashad gets the better of it and stuns Hendo, almost knocking him down. Henderson recovers quick and so Rashad backs out. Smart stuff. Nice jab from Rashad. This is a really tough fight to judge. Both men land with jabs. Low single leg attempt from Rashad but Henderson defends it well. Rashad forces him back into the fence though and works to keep him there. They work for position in the clinch and Henderson lands with a pair of solid knees to the ribs. Nice combo breaks for Rashad and he goes for the takedown again, but once more Hendo stuffs it. Back out and Rashad pops him with the jab. He’s really beginning to back Henderson up now too. Back into the clinch and Rashad forces him into the fence again. Good punches inside from Rashad and when Hendo breaks with a knee, Rashad cracks him with a right hook to set up another clinch. Single leg attempt from Evans again but Henderson lands with a hard elbow to force him to give it up. Seconds to go and they remain clinched. Good uppercut from Rashad and they break, and Rashad clocks him with a stiff jab. Round ends shortly after. I’d call that 10-9 Evans for a 29-28 win, but I could see 29-28 Hendo if you give him the second round which was very close.

Judges officially have it 29-28 Henderson, 29-28 Evans and 29-28 for Rashad Evans to steal the split decision. Ha, with Dan’s history I’m surprised he didn’t get the nod! Super-close fight though and really either man winning would’ve been a fair result. At the time I really enjoyed this fight but on a rewatch it wasn’t that good at all – maybe making it a five rounder would’ve made it more interesting, but it just looked like the styles clash and the fact that Rashad was wary of Hendo’s power but was fast enough to avoid it meant for a really tentative fight for the most part with the odd nice exchange but quite a lot of clinching too. Wasn’t the worst fight of all time or anything but it was definitely underwhelming and in fact I think it was quite clearly the worst UFC PPV main event of 2013 thus far. Wild side note – the last time Henderson won a fight now was November 2011 over Shogun!

-Highlight reel rolls and that’s the end of that.

Final Thoughts….

So I remembered this show being the weakest of 2013, but I didn’t remember it being quite *this* bad. Jabouin/Pague was excellent as was Stout/Krause but neither was a FOTYC or anything like that and on the main card, Davis/Sexton, Miocic/Nelson and Henderson/Evans were decent enough, but Jimmo/Pokrajac stunk and Jordan/Barry was too short to really mean anything. Two finishes in eleven fights is bad however you look at it and with super-dull stuff like Woodley/Shields, Jimmo/Pokrajac and Pierson/Robertson floating around this one’s an easy thumbs down, unfortunately.

Best Fight: Krause vs. Stout
Worst Fight: Woodley vs. Shields

Overall Rating: **

Until next time,

Scott Newman: