It’s time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look at the UFC’s latest trip to Canada and the clash between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson at UFC 161, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began with the preliminaries and the bantamweight encounter between Roland Delorme and Edwin Figueroa.
This proved to be a great show opener. When Delorme scored with the early takedown it was a sign of things to come as the Canadian dominated the action on the ground. He was all over his man like a bad rash as he went looking for submission after submission as Figueroa looked like he could go down at any time.
The only time Delorme looked vulnerable was when Figueroa had the chance to deliver some ground and pound. There were times when his piston-like right hand cause Delorme quite a few problems, and by the time the third round began he had far more success in that particular department.
But with no finish in sight the decision was put in the hands of the judges as Delorme took the unanimous decision.
It was up to welterweight for the next fight between Sean Pierson and Kenny Robertson.
While not as spectacular as the previous fight this was still pretty good. Both fighters gave a good account of themselves in what looked like a gruelling three rounder. The majority of the stand up exchanges belonged to Pierson. His striking looked crisp at times, and although Robertson connected with a couple of body kicks in the first two rounds Pierson looked comfortable.
Then Robertson connected with a hard elbow that rocked his man. Pierson looked in no end of trouble as Robertson went after him, and it looked like the fight was going to end there and then.
But Pierson held on, and when the fight went to the ground Robertson went to work with the ground and pound. However, his attack didn’t look that intense, and as Pierson still looked groggy from the elbow it was somewhat frustrating that Robertson didn’t go in for the kill.
With no finish the judges were called upon again as Pierson took the majority decision.
Then it was down to lightweight as Sam Stout faced James Krause.
The debuting Krause entered the cage with a distinct height and reach advantage, and he used this to good effect early on. Stout had quite a bit of trouble closing the distance, and his cause wasn’t helped much when a high kick from Krause opened up a nasty cut above his right eye.
Stout managed to up his game a little as the fight progressed, his hard shot to the liver a fine example, but Krause always seemed one step ahead of him.
As the fight entered it’s final minute Stout scored with a takedown, probably hoping it would look good for the decision, but within seconds Krause locked in a guillotine choke, and Stout had no choice but to tap with just 13 seconds remaining to give Krause the submission win.
The final preliminary fight saw a return to the welterweight division as Jake Shields faced Tyron Woodley.
For three rounds these two put on an intriguing fight. It wasn’t overly flashy, but it did have it’s moments. Woodley’s striking looked good early on, especially when his kick sent Shields to the mat, but as the action progressed Shields went for numerous takedown attempts against the cage. Woodley was able to defend against all of these, using the clinch to his own advantage by delivering some hard blows to the body.
As round one became round two Shields began to stamp his authority on the proceedings. His striking was sound and more successful than Woodley’s, although he may have been better served if he stuck to striking instead of going for the takedowns.
With the fight going the distance the judges were called upon again as Woodley took the split decision.
The main show began with heavyweight action as Pat Barry took on Shawn Jordan.
This was one of those fights where the introductions lasted longer than the action. They began with a brief water testing period, with the first meaningful action coming when Jordan came forward with a flurry of blows. It wasn’t long before Barry slumped to the mat, and as Jordan followed him down for a series of piston-like lefts the referee stepped in to give Jordan the 59 second TKO win.
Women’s bantamweight action followed as Alexis Davis took on Rosi Sexton.
These two didn’t bother with the feeling out period. They began trading as soon as the fight began, but when the action went to the ground Davis took control. She spent what seemed like an age trying to lock in a triangle choke, and Sexton’s counter to this was to deliver a series of right hands to Davis’ face.
Davis continued her great work into the second round. Once again her ground work was top notch, and when she took Sexton’s back and flattened her out it looked all over as she delivered a continuous barrage of blows. Time was on Sexton’s side though, although the referee would probably have stopped the fight had the round not ended. It was more or less the same story in the third. Sexton put in a good showing at times, but Davis was just a few steps better.
The judges were called upon once again at the end of this one, and they were in complete agreement as Davis took the unanimous decision.
Then it was on to the light heavyweight division as Ryan Jimmo went up against Igor Pokrajac.
I think this one could be termed interesting more than anything else, particularly the first round. Both fighters spent a great deal of time grappling against the cage, although for some reason the referee kept separating them after just 30 seconds or so. It was as if he didn’t want them to work.
Things got a little better in the next two rounds. Jimmo did a good job when the fight went to the ground, although it wasn’t all one way traffic as Pokrajac delivered some good blows off his back, as well as going for a guillotine in the final round.
With no finish the judges were called upon once again as Jimmo took the unanimous decision.
The co-main event featured heavyweight action as Roy Nelson went up against Stipe Miocic.
Now I’m a big fan of Big Country, but I freely admit that Miocic made him look very ordinary in this fight. For three rounds Miocic fought the perfect fight. His tactics were spot on. He simply outfought Nelson as he used his face for target practice for the majority of the fight.
Nelson just didn’t seem able to get out of first gear. He looked absolutely shattered by the time the second round started, while Miocic looked as fresh as a daisy throughout, and the only reason he didn’t get the stoppage win was because of Nelson’s granite jaw.
As for the decision, no surprises there as Miocic took the unanimous decision.
The main event featured light heavyweight action as Rashad Evans took on Dan Henderson.
It’s a shame that this fight was only given main event status on short notice, because it would have been good to see these two go an extra couple of rounds. We had quite a lengthy feeling out period at the beginning of this one, and as the action progressed it developed into an intriguing striking affair.
Henderson looked the better fight in the first round, his most memorable moment being the stiff jab that rocked his man. As they entered the second round Evans began to up his game. He showed a good turn of speed, and even though Henderson easily defended against most of his takedown attempts he looked comfortable throughout.
Sadly neither man could get the job done, which meant that the judges entered the equation once again, and once again their opinions differed as Evans took the split decision.
The show rounded out with filler material in the form of the bantamweight encounter between Yves Jabouin and Dustin Pague.
This certainly proved to be an eventful encounter. It began with Jabouin connecting with a couple of kicks, but when the fight went to the ground a few seconds later Pague put on an excellent display of grappling as he went for submission after submission, and even though Jabouin was in top position most of the time he didn’t exactly look comfortable.
It was pretty much the same story in the second round as Pague came close to victory once again, but when the third round started Jabouin finally scored with a takedown of his own. His work looked a little better this time around, although Pague still had his fair share of submission attempts.
But with no finish the judges came into play as Jabouin took the somewhat confusing split decision.
In conclusion - the UFC’s latest trip north of the border proved to be another satisfying affair, and although the show wasn’t filled with finishes it was filled with great action throughout, so in that respect it certainly delivered.
As for my fight of the night I was originally going to go for the Roland Delorme/Edwin Figueroa encounter, but their fellow bantamweights Yves Jabouin and Dustin Pague pipped them at the post, despite the somewhat perplexing decision from the judges.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give UFC 161 the thumbs up.