UFC 161 – Staff Roundtable, Fight Picks on Main Card

June’s major events in MMA end tonight with UFC 161, which looks like a promising card. As always the Inside Fights staff has combined to make picks on how the main card should go. Participating:

Daniel Sohn, Staff Writer
Luke Cho-Yee, Staff Writer
Ryan Frederick, Staff Writer
Scott Sawitz, Managing Editor and Featured Columnist
Adam Keyes, Staff Writer

Light Heavyweight Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson

Sawitz: I picked Henderson in my preview and I think he pulls it off. I’m always leery of picking someone when the major storyline behind their camp is either they “discovered their fire again” or they “look in the best shape of their career.” Call it the BJ Penn Defense but I’m like a battered housewife in that regard; anytime people are screaming about “BJ Penn With Abs” or “Motivated BJ Penn,” or any other high profile fighter, then I don’t buy it. Henderson

Frederick: This has personally been a dream match of mine for quite a while, and it would have been great to seem them fight while they were at their peaks in around 2009 or 2010. Both looked terrible in their last performances, and both are looking to turn it around. With this only being three rounds, it won’t be as much of a strategy-based fight, and we won’t have to worry about seeing Henderson fade late. This one is interesting and likely going the distance, but I see Evans squeaking out a decision. Evans

SOHN: Henderson has the ability to nullify Evans’ athleticism and wrestling, and also has that rocket right hand to put Evans down. Henderson probably wants a shot at Jones more than Evans does at this point. Henderson

CY: With Both fighters coming of lack lustre performances I expect a very competitive match up and although Hendo is arguably the toughest SOB in MMA I think Rashad’s speed and athleticism will prove the key factor and give him the edge going into the later rounds where he will use his wrestling to secure position and close out a win. Evans by decision.

Keyes: While Henderson will always possess the fight-ending KO ability, I can’t see him getting close enough to land it on this occassion. For me, Rashad’s speed and footwork will prove key to victory here and prevent him from being another victim of the H-Bomb. Evans

Heavyweight Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic

Sawitz: Nelson has one way to win, landing that big right. Unfortunately every time he has to fight someone who can take him he generally tends to take a beating in defeat. I like Miocic to use his wrestling chops to do what Frank Mir did. Miocic

Frederick: Nelson steps up to save the card and Miocic gets a huge opportunity to score an upset. Nelson has fought twice since Miocic has stepped into the Octagon, and he is on quite a tear. It is Nelson’s last fight on his contract, though, and it could mess with his head as he gets ready for the fight. Miocic has a lot to prove and a win would move him up the rankings big, and a loss wouldn’t sting as much since he’s stepping up against a big opponent on short notice. Nelson

SOHN: Nelson is on fire right now and while Miocic is a dangerous striker, Big Country can take all the punishment Miocic can dish out and still move forward. Nelson is going to add Miocic to his list of KO victims. Nelson

CY: I consider Miocic to be a rising star of the heavyweight division who has the potential to become a fully-fledged contender in the not so distant future, so it’s unfortunate that after his original opponent had to withdraw, the UFC has seen fit to replace him with a fighter who has begun to reach the peak of his powers. I expect Nelson to close out the last fight of his UFC contract in typical ‘Big Country’ style. Nelson by KO

Keyes: Personally, I am not sold on Miocic as a genuine prospect in the heavyweight division from what I have seen of him so far. Nelson has looked real impressive of late albeit against opponents he should have been beating, Miocic is another one of these opponents. I see Nelson ending this fight and quick. Nelson

Jimmo vs. Pokrajac

Sawitz: Jimmo has looked like an absolute killer since he left MFC for the UFC for some reason. He was a bit of a striking grinder back then, kind of like a Canadian Lyoto Machida, and in the UFC he’s been showing big power that he really didn’t show beforehand. I like Pokrajac but Jimmo gets a big KO in his home country. Jimmo

Frederick: This fight could be explosive or it could be boring. It’s tough to say which way it’ll go as both could be looking at fighting to keep their spots on the UFC roster, and it could make both play it safe in hopes for a win. Pokrajac hits hard and has quick hands, and Jimmo comes out strong but faded badly in his last fight. Jimmo is more than a 2-to-1 favorite in the odds, but it should be closer than that, though I see him taking home the win. Jimmo

SOHN: Jimmo is looking for his second win in the UFC and he gets it against Pokrajac. Jimmo will be the hometown boy (home country, anyway) and gets a boost from the crowd to bounce back from his last loss. Jimmo

CY: This should be a really entertaining spectacle, as both fighters love to trade blows on the feet and have solid knock out power between them. After an initial feeling out process I expect Jimmo to impose his more dynamic striking game and use his fleet footedness to control range and give the Canadian fans the outcome they crave. Jimmo by TKO

Keyes: Pokrajac has the necessary striking capabilities to be able to hang with Jimmo on the feet, but ultimately Jimmo’s superior technical ability will show out en route to a decision victory. Jimmo

Davis vs. Sexton

Sawitz: Davis has the edge in experience and competition level. In WMMA those kind of things matter much more. Davis.

Frederick: With this being the fourth women’s bout in the UFC since they were brought over, but only the second one to be featured on pay-per-view, these women have the chance to make a huge name for themselves in front of a premium audience. Davis and Sexton are both solid grapplers who have good, but not great, striking skills. It should go to the ground, and Davis is better suited on the mat, so she’ll take the win. Davis

SOHN: Davis has an edge in experience and fighting in bigger fights in bigger organizations against more well-known opponents. Davis is one of the best fighters Sexton will have ever faced. Davis can’t say that about Sexton. Davis

CY: I expect a highly engaging grapple fest between these two ladies as both bring extremely technical ground skills into the cage. Sexton is a very game opponent who has fought successfully all over the world but I feel Davis has improved more rapidly and will continue to show her progress, controlling the majority of the contest with superior positioning and a more effective striking output.

Keyes: While Sexton is an accomplished grappler who has the required submission chops to end your night abruptly and is someone who has only lost when facing significant opposition, I feel that the size advantage and all-round skills that Davis possesses will prove decisive. Davis

Barry vs. Jordan

Sawitz: Historically Pat Barry has been alternating wins and losses as of late and is coming off a win. Jordan is a tough out and I don’t think Barry can make it. We know Barry’s ceiling; he’s a fun fighter but will never crack the Top 10 and he’s ok with it. Jordan still could and I think he takes it with a match that gets him on the all-violence team this year. Jordan.

Frederick: Every time Pat Barry steps inside the Octagon, I’m thoroughly entertained. He has brawls that generally end with knockouts, and if he gets the win, he always has an entertaining celebration. Jordan is quite the athlete but his MMA game is not as good as Barry’s is. Barry will destroy Jordan on the feet, so Jordan will need to get it to the ground. In the end, Barry will keep it on the feet and show his excellent kickboxing and then cap the night off with a signature celebration. Barry

SOHN: Jordan is looking better with every fight, except that speed bump he hit with Kongo. He can use his size and athleticism to take away Barry’s greatest strength: his explosive striking potential. Jordan

CY: Barry is yet to record two consecutive wins in the UFC and Jordan does present some interesting challenges for the former K1 fighter as he combines heavy hands with a solid ground game. A difficult one to call as Barry will need to avoid the aggressive takedowns of Jordan who will enter with a Greg Jackson formulated strategy but I believe he will break his duck and earn a second successive win. Barry by TKO

Keyes: While it’s not exactly a chore to be able to take Pat Barry down to the mat, I can’t quite see Jordan getting it done here. I think this fight stays standing and here Barry has the upper hand. Barry

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