On Saturday, June 15, the UFC held UFC 161 from the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The night’s main event featured a light heavyweight clash between former UFC champion and Ultimate Fighter winner Rashad Evans and former Pride FC and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson. Each fighter looked for a win to vault them back into title contention in the 205-pound division.

Also on the main card, another TUF winner, Roy Nelson, looked to move one step closer to a title shot as he took on hard-hitting Stipe Miocic in the co-main event. A women’s bantamweight contest between Alexis Davis and Rosi Sexton also graced the pay-per-view card while heavyweights Pat Barry and Shawn Jordan locked horns and Canadian Ryan Jimmo battled Igor Pokrajac.

The 11-fight event kicked off at 7 p.m. ET with two bouts streaming on the promotion’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Four additional bouts followed on FX at 8 p.m. ET, with the five-fight pay-per-view main card starting at 10 p.m. ET.

Evans edges Henderson

In a pivotal light heavyweight battle, former UFC champion Rashad Evans edged out MMA legend Dan Henderson by split decision in a closely contested fight.

It took roughly a minute for each fighter to establish their range. Evans used his speed and movement to get inside, but he could not get the fight to the ground. Henderson delivered a stiff jab that rocked Evans and sent him to the mat. Henderson tried to rush in for the finish, but Evans was able to recover.

Evans shot in for a takedown to kick off the second frame, but was unable to keep Henderson on the mat. Evans continued to press forward and score with combinations. Henderson fired back with a nice knee to uppercut counter. As Evans pressed the fight against the cage, Henderson scored with an elbow that opened a cut over Evans’ right eye.

A flurry along the fence from Evans surprised Henderson early in the final round. Henderson wobbled momentarily, but quickly recovered. Evans dove in for a single-leg takedown midway through the round, but Henderson showcased solid balance to keep the fight upright. Evans continued to attack and pressure as the fight came to a close.

Miocic embarrasses Nelson

The night’s co-main event saw a shake-up in the heavyweight division as Stipe Miocic bounced back from the first loss of his career to completely dismantle title hopeful Roy Nelson en route to a lopsided decision win.

The athleticism and technique of Miocic came into play almost immediately. Nelson stalked early, but Miocic used his footwork to avoid Nelson’s right hand and deliver multiple combinations. The constant punishment took its toll on Nelson, as he began to drop his hands and back up against the cage.

It was more of the same in the second round as Miocic’s crisp angles continued to frustrate Nelson. Miocic did everything in his power to try to stop Nelson, but the granite-chinned Ultimate Fighter winner absorbed the onslaught of punches and knees from the towering Strong Style MMA product.

Nelson’s gas tank was all but gone in round three as Miocic battered him with jabs and uppercuts, mixing in the occasional takedown attempt to keep Nelson guessing.

The one-sided performance was sealed on the scorecards as all three judges gave Miocic all three rounds.

Jimmo grinds out Pokrajac

Canadian light heavyweight Ryan Jimmo got back in the win column with a slow, grinding decision win over veteran Igor Pokrajac.

There was little action in the first round. The fighters clinched along the fence multiple times and referee Yves Lavinge separated them each time for a lack of action. Pokrajac connected with a massive right hand in the last minute of the frame, but Jimmo took it well.

Jimmo wobbled Pokrajac with a big shot to open the second stanza. He flurried for a finish, but Pokrajac was able to recover when Jimmo followed into his guard. Pokrajac scored with an upkick and worked for a triangle choke, but Jimmo passed into side control as the round came to a close.

In the final round Pokrajac looked for a takedown but Jimmo reversed him and landed inside the full guard. With two minutes remaining Pokrajac latched onto a guillotine choke, but Jimmo was able to escape and the fight returned to the feet in the final seconds.

“I fought conservatively. I apologize for the performance,” said Jimmo in his post-fight speech.

Davis outlasts Sexton

The lone women’s bout of the evening saw Canadian Alexis Davis edge out the UK’s Rosi Sexton by decision.

In the opening round, the ladies wasted little time trading heavy shots in the center of the Octagon. They clinched along the cage and Davis was able to get the fight to the ground. She latched onto a triangle choke from her back, but Sexton had plenty of space to rain right hands. Davis refused to let go of the submission attempt and ate a number of big shots until the round closed.

The second round saw Sexton score with a takedown along the cage. Davis showed off her ground game, using a leg lock to sweep into the top position. After dropping heavy shots, Davis looked for a rear-naked choke along the fence. She secured Sexton’s back and flattened her out, all the while delivering punishment. Referee Herb Dean was close to halting the contest, but the bell saved Sexton.

Round three saw Davis again look to take the fight to the mat, but Sexton sprawled and landed on top. Davis again transitioned to a dominant position, taking Sexton’s back. Sexton spun into her guard and remained active in the top position until the final horn.

On the scorecards it was Davis’ slick ground game that was the difference as she walked away with the unanimous decision win to extend her winning streak to three.

Jordan overwhelms Barry

In a battle of heavyweights with Louisiana ties, former LSU fullback Shawn Jordan scored a lightning-fast TKO win over Pat Barry.

The pair traded shots early, but a right hand from Jordan, followed by an uppercut sent Barry crashing to the mat along the cage. Jordan smelled blood and rained heavy shots along the fence, forcing the referee to waive off the contest less than a minute into the fight.

Preliminary Card Summary

In a battle of Strikeforce veterans, Jake Shields edged Tyron Woodley in an eventful bout. Shields was the more active fighter, but neither fighter mounted much offense over the three-round affair. Shields failed to deliver on any of his double-digit takedown attempts, but other than a third-round spinning back fist, Woodley failed to mount any offense. Both fighters were showered with boos as the scorecards were read, with Shields taking the split decision nod.

After falling short in his stint on The Ultimate Fighter: Live, lightweight James Krause bounced back in his Octagon debut, submitting veteran Sam Stout in the waning seconds of their fight. Krause delivered a vicious head kick in the opening round, opening up a massive cut on the right side of Stout’s face. Stout battled back in round two, but Krause’s length gave him trouble on the feet. When Stout scored with a takedown late in the final frame, Krause locked up the fight-ending guillotine choke.

In yet another questionable verdict in favor of the hometown fighter, Sean Pierson picked up a majority decision win over fellow welterweight Kenny Robertson. Pierson’s striking set the tone of the opening frame, although Robertson briefly took his back. In the second stanza Robertson came alive and completely dominated round three after rocking Pierson with a massive right elbow. Yet, when the scorecards were revealed, it was Pierson who walked out of the cage with the victory.

TUF alum Roland Delorme engaged in a back-and-forth affair with Edwin Figueroa, with the Canadian Delorme claiming the bout on the scorecards. Delorme’s grappling prowess nearly ended the fight in the opening frame, but Figueroa battled back with heavy shots as the fight progressed. Delorme survived the late onslaught to pick up the win.

Mitch Clarke spoiled the lightweight debut of Englishman John Maguire, claiming a unanimous decision victory. Clarke showed improved striking from the opening bell, keeping Maguire guessing. Maguire fought with a sense of desperation in the final round, but it was too little, too late.

Canadian bantamweight Yves Jabouin was the beneficiary of some questionable judging, taking home a split decision win over Dustin Pague. Pague was relentless off his back throughout the three rounds, and came very close to submitting Jabouin on more than one occasion.  However, Jabouin was rewarded for staying in the top position and avoiding Pague’s submission game.

FULL RESULTS
Rashad Evans def. Dan Henderson by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Stipe Miocic def. Roy Nelson by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Ryan Jimmo def. Igor Pokrajac by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Alexis Davis def. Rosi Sexton by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28)
Shawn Jordan def. Pat Barry by TKO (punches). Round 1, 0:59
Jake Shields def. Tyron Woodley by split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
James Krause def. Sam Stout by submission (guillotine choke). Round 3, 4:47
Sean Pierson def. Kenny Robertson by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
Roland Delorme def. Edwin Figueroa by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Mitch Clarke def. John Maguire by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Yves Jabouin def. Dustin Pague by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Photo: Rashad Evans (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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