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UFC 161 predictions

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

It's not the best card the UFC has ever produced, but it is what it is. And if there is a silver lining, Winnipeg's citizens get to see a UFC event in their own town.

There are also some actual fight game implications, too. That's especially true in the main event where light heavyweight division elite battle not simply for supremacy, but for a reason to continue competing. Can Rashad Evans find the fire he's been looking for? Will Dan Henderson get back on track towards a title shot opportunity with Jon Jones? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Saturday's fights.

What: UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson

Where: The MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

When: Saturday, the two-fight Facebook card starts at 7 p.m. ET, the four-fight FX card starts at 8 p.m. and the five-fight main card starts on pay-per-view at 10 p.m.

Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson

The odds have this one as close and I suppose any bout where Henderson can wield the Thor's Hammer that is his right hand, he's never out of a bout. But forced to choose here, I'm going with Evans. If he's got his head on straight, he should be able to use just enough striking to set up level changes en route to top control where Henderson is not particularly great or mobile.

Pick: Evans

Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic

Miocic is an upset threat in the sense that he could feasibly use his wrestling skills to either stifle Nelson along the fence or simply score takedowns and ride out top position. I'm not saying that's the most likely outcome, but it is something worth considering. Ultimately, I suspect Nelson's going to end this bout the way most of his victories arrive, namely, with a heap of Miocic on the Octagon canvas after being bludgeoned with an overhand right.

Pick: Nelson

Ryan Jimmo vs. Igor Pokrajac

We all have our preferences, but I find this bout to be underwhelming. At their best, both of them are willing pocket exchangers with an understanding of the need to be proactive with their offense. At worst or at least in their own consistency, they don't effectively bring their talents to bear. I'm going to side with Jimmo. Of the two, he's incontestably the more powerful striker, but I wonder if and when we'll see MFC Jimmo rear his head.

Pick: Jimmo

Alexis Davis vs. Rosie Sexton

Sexton is a talented veteran, but I'm of the belief she's a bit undersized for the weight class. On top of that, Davis' submission skills are first-rate. Provided she can take the bout to the floor (I'm confident she can), this is her fight to lose.

Pick: Davis

Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan

I'm going to go with the upset here. If this fight stays standing, it's a matter of time before Barry ends it. And while Jordan was none too impressive in the Cheick Kongo fight in terms of his takedown prowess, I suspect a) he's ironed out some of those problems and b) whatever he has is good enough to get past Barry. Once there, he should be able to score damage and points from top position.

Pick: Jordan

From the preliminary card:

Jake Shields > Tyron Woodley
Sam Stout > James Krause
Sean Pierson > Kenny Robertson
Roland Delorme > Edwin Figueroa
Mitch Clarke < John Maguire
Yves Jabouin > Dustin Pague

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