Up until now in 2013, the injury bug had yet to surface. Sure, it bit a few fighters here and there, but it was never able to destroy a card the way it has for UFC 161. Originally, the main event for the card was going to be an interim bantamweight title fight between Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland, but a foot injury to the interim champion derailed that fight from happening.

All was well and good, as the co-main event between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans was moved to the main event, the featured match-up between Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira became the new co-main event, while a heavyweight fight between Roy Nelson and Stipe Miocic was carved out of the rubble, in an effort to save the card.

However, back problems forced “Lil’ Nog” out of his fight with “Shogun.”  For a short time, Rua was linked to a fight with Chael Sonnen on short notice, but that fight will main event the promotion’s debut n Fox Sports 1, with the Nelson versus Miocic fight moved to the co-main event.

Considering what the UFC had to work with on short notice, they did their best to patch the card together. We are left with two of the top light heavyweight’s in the world going at it, an exciting heavyweight clash, and an all important fight in the women’s bantamweight fight, as that division is still brand new and being sorted out.

These three fights, and eight others will take place on June 15 starting with the preliminary card on YouTube and Facebook at 7 p.m. ET, which leads into the televised prelims on FX at 8 p.m. ET.  The main card airs live on pay-per-view starting at 10 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Richard Wilcoxon, Gregory Chase, and Brian McKenna analyze and break down the fights in this edition of the Round Table.

LHW: Ryan Jimmo (17-2) vs. Igor Pokrajac (25-9)

Wilcoxon: Starting off the main card is one of the toughest fights to call. This is an even match.

Jimmo is the former MFC champion. He is physically strong with strong wrestling and is a black belt of Chito-ryu, a form of karate.

Pokrajac is a well-rounded, long-time veteran of the sport. He has solid wrestling, solid boxing, and decent submission skills. Pokrajac is a finisher with 21 stoppages in his 25 career wins.

Both fighters are a similar age, have a similar skill level, and have faced a similar level of competition.  In a coin toss, I lean towards Jimmo.  He will be the stronger and bigger fighter. When skill is equal, size does matter.

Chase: This is a tough call, as Richard stated. Both men are anxious to get back to their winning ways, and have both gotten snagged up with their last bouts. I think mentally though, Jimmo will be in a better place. He was on a huge tear, and his last fight with Te Huna isn’t going to sideline his momentum that much.

Pokrajac is a tough fighter, and a well-rounded one at that. He can finish the fight wherever it goes, and has put his time into the sport. But as stated before, I think the momentum swing here goes to his opponent.

I will agree with Richard that it’s a coin toss, but Jimmo to me will have one advantage, and that is the mental. I think he is prepared physically and mentally for this fight, and to re-establish his position in the division.

McKenna: I feel that athletes at times can find a more successful road in defeat, rather than in victory. When an athlete continues to win over and over again, it can be hard to maintain an elite level of work ethic, based on the fact that the success goes to their head. Headed into his UFC debut two fights ago, Ryan Jimmo had only one loss, and had ripped off 16 straight victories. His first dance inside the Octagon lasted a mere seven seconds after he quickly knocked out Anthony Perosh, while his second trip didn’t go so well as he dropped the decision to James Te Huna.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said “never confuse a single defeat with the final defeat.” That is the mentality that “Big Deal” has to have as he is fresh off of his first defeat in six years. You have to figure that he has worked as hard as ever and is motivated beyond belief in order to get back on the winning side of things. I am also picking Jimmo in this fight, as he will knockout Pokrajac in front of his fellow countrymen.

HW: Pat Barry (8-5) vs. Shawn Jordan (14-4)

Chase: Always enjoy watching Pat Barry fight. For multiple reasons, but his overall heart he puts into his fights is fun to watch. It also usually means someone is getting knocked out, whether it be him or his opponent.

Shawn Jordan is bringing some heavy hands of his own, and I think his best bet will be to stand and trade with Barry. This isn’t the best strategy against a guy like Barry, but I think it is his best shot at winning this fight definitively and quickly.

I will have to go with Barry though, and I think that despite if my fighter pick is wrong, the method will be correct. I will say a first round KO, maybe three or four minutes in. Expect a good showing of striking, but ultimately Pat Barry’s power to land first and much harder.

McKenna: I have to echo Greg’s opening statement, a Pat Barry fight is always a must watch. “HD” always brings a level of excitement to the cage with him, but it is different than that of someone like Anderson Silva. You never know whether or not Barry will be on the right or wrong end of a spectacular finish, however there’s usually a great finish. Standing and banging is what the former kickboxer likes to do, winning seven of his eight fights by knockout.

A former Louisiana State University fullback, Shawn Jordan stands opposite to Barry in this contest. He made his professional debut back at Bellator 9, and ended up going 3-1 with the promotion which was spread over three years. He moved on to Strikeforce, and was brought into the UFC when all of the heavyweights made their way over. Again, like Greg mentioned, he too likes to get his work done on the feet, as he has 10 career victories by knockout.

Unlike Greg mentioned though, I don’t think the best way to go about fighting Barry is to try and stand and duke it out. Sure, Cheick Kongo and Lavar Johnson were able to crack that code and earn a knockout against Barry, but the best route to victory for Jordan will be if the fight goes to the ground. “HD’s” ground game is improving with every fight, but it is still his clear weakness.

But, I agree and think that the two will try and slug it out. With that, I’ll also take Barry by first-round knockout, based on how much more of a crisp and technical fighter Barry is.

Wilcoxon:  I have to agree with almost everything Brian said. It is not wise to stand with Pat Barry, a former kickboxer. Jordan would have the advantage on the mat but it has been since 2011 since he has really looked to get fight to the ground. This would be a good time to dust off those skills and pull them out of the tool box. However, Jordan has found a lot of success with his striking and it is hard to turn away from what has been working for you.

With that said, I also look for Barry to take this one by first-round TKO.

Women’s BW: Rosi Sexton (13-2) vs. Alexis Davis (13-5)

McKenna: The lone women’s bantamweight bout on the evening is between two fighters both making their promotional debut. Both fighters walk into the cage with 13-total victories in their career, however it is the British fighter, Rosi Sexton, who walks in with two fewer losses. Sexton has spent her time between several promotions, most recently fighting for Bellator and Cage Warriors.

Her opponent, Alexis Davis, has bounced around a lot recently, ending up fighting Strikeforce and the all-women’s Invicta FC in her most recent fights. In her last bout, she avenged a loss to Shayna Baszler, and also took a decision from Julie Kedzie a few fights ago. Davis has proven that she can hang in the cage with some of the best in the world.

Despite these women having identical victories by knockout, submission and decision, I give the Canadian fighter the edge. Davis has bigger wins in her career, and has been in there with stronger competition. Don’t expect this fight to be a rollover, however Sexton will fall victim of a knockout by Davis late in the second.

Wilcoxon: I will echo my fellow panelist in predicting Davis to win, but I think she does it by submission.

Davis has faced and beaten tougher competition and is 5-1 since 2010 with her lone loss over that stretch coming against former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman by a closely contested decision.

Sexton will make it a fight early, but eventually Davis will force her to tap in the final round.

Chase: Alexis Davis is a finisher, and I expect just that in this fight. She is riding a nice win streak, and has looked impressive doing so. Sexton is on a tear of her own, but is going to run into some problems on the ground for this one.

Both are making their UFC debuts, but I think Davis will be much better prepared for this fight. I am a big believer in the psychological ramifications of a fighter before stepping into the cage, and I think this will be a nice test for both to see who handles the big stage well. I think Davis in Invicta has been a better segway, and it will show the night of the fight.

I expect a submission victory out of Davis, or at least a dominant performance.

HW: Roy Nelson (19-7) vs. Stipe Miocic (9-1)

Chase: It’s always an interesting time to watch Roy Nelson fight. Beyond the normal allure from Nelson, he is also jumping back into the cage after a very short turn around. He recently beat Cheick Kongo at UFC 159 at the end of April, and will look to move to four wins in a row. This is the primary point of this fight for me. This is Nelson’s best shot at getting a title shot. While Stipe Miocic is a formidable opponent, he isn’t the next name on the list to help move up in rank.

However, if Nelson can put on another performance like he did against the likes of Kongo, Mitrione and Herman, than it may very well give him the credibility he needs to be put in a title shot soon.

Stipe ran into a roadblock against Stefan Struve, ending his nine-fight winning streak. He has a lot to prove and is hungry to get back to his winning ways. Like Nelson, he brings some powerful punches that have stopped almost all of his fights early on. The big question though is if he can be the one to finally knock Nelson’s lights out. Nelson’s chin is a mystery, and arguably the best in MMA right now. Not being able to put away Nelson may frustrate Miocic, or tire him out to the point where Nelson can land a big bomb. I predict Nelson wins via KO in the second round.

Wilcoxon:  I am not sure how to hype this fight. I really see this being a one-sided bout.

Miocic found MMA late joining the sport professionally when he was 27 years old. He has relatively few fights for his age. He has solid striking skills and a diverse arsenal, but he is just in over his head.

Nelson is one of the top heavyweights in the world. He is more experienced, faced better competition, and is better in every aspect of the sport. If the fight stays standing, Nelson has more power and a better chin. On the ground he is a BJJ black belt.

I know MMA math is not perfect or even close in determining a fight. But if you look at both men’s fight with Stefan Struve, you get a pretty good idea of the difference in these fighters skill. Nelson will win this however he wants. I will say a first-round TKO.

McKenna: I was in attendance at UFC 159 and watching Nelson deliver that amazing overhand punch to Kongo was awesome. Prior to winning, and even after winning season 10 of TUF, Nelson was a guy who was good, not great. Almost as if he was a gatekeeper for the heavyweight division, as he beat the guys he should, but could never pull the upset and beat a better opponent.

Which, ultimately still holds true. Nelson’s current three-fight winning streak is against Dave Herman, Matt Mitrione, and Kongo. None of those three fighters are exactly top-ten guys, meaning for a guy like Nelson, he should have won all three.

If you ask me, Miocic is at the same level as the three aforementioned fighters, meaning Nelson should, and will, win this fight. I think Nelson has gotten better in his last three fights, even admitting to Joe Rogan that he had never really worked combinations previously. Now with his striking at its most crisp, on top of the slick ground game, gives me the confidence to pick Nelson by first-round knockout in this one.

LHW: Rashad Evans (17-3-1) vs. Dan Henderson (29-9)

Wilcoxon:  What a main event! Both guys have skill, experience, and faced amazing competition. Also, both guys have been around the sport for years but there are still questions surrounding both heading into this fight.

Evans burst onto the MMA scene by shocking the everyone by winning the heavyweight side of The Ultimate Fighter reality show on season two. He won the show by highlighting his quickness and demonstrating his wrestling pedigree. Since the show, Evans’ striking has improved by leaps and bounds.

Hendo possess those exact some skills. He has an Olympic-level wrestling background but is most feared for his devastating overhand right.

Both guys have the skills to give anyone problems. But as I said, there are questions around each guy. Evans rose to greatness under the tutelage of Greg Jackson. Since leaving Jackson’s gym, he beat an old Tito Ortiz and won a boring and uninspiring fight with Phil Davis while he has lost his last two. Many are questioning if he still has the desire to fight and be great.

On the flip side, nobody is questioning Hendo’s desire to fight. But they are questioning if Father Time is finally catching up to him. Henderson is 42 and even though steroids…uh, I mean TRT, has extended his fighting career, at some point he will slow down. With both of his last two fights being very close and Dan tiring in the end, it may appear that time is sooner than later.

With so many questions surrounding both fighters, it is tough to predict who will the fight. Hendo will test Evans’ will to be great early and often. But if Evans is still driven to be great, his speed and cardio give him the edge to win a decision if he can avoid taking a big right.  I will go with Evans winning a split decision that will leave fans on both sides arguing on Sunday morning about who really won.

McKenna: I think it is fair to say that both of these fighters were at their worst in their last outing. Evans did next to nothing in his fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, while Lyoto Machida neutralized everything that Henderson was able to do.

In “Hendo’s” defense though, Machida is able to neutralize most of his opponents. He is one of the few fighters out there who has actually taken a round from light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. I’d be willing to bet that if the former two-division Pride champion could do that fight over, that he would commit to offense the way that he did when he took on “Shogun” in their epic clash at UFC 139.

The same cannot be said for Evans, however. I wish I had an explanation for the egg that he laid against “Lil’ Nog”, but I don’t have one. Maybe it was a poor game plan figured out by those at the Blackzillian camp rather than his previous ones at Jackson’s MMA, maybe he was sick, or just maybe this truly is the new Rashad Evans.

These two fighters have wrestling credentials that more or less cancel one another out, but Evans holds the edge in quickness and speed, but the power and chin are in the corner of Henderson.

Being that both fighters are looking to prove that their last performance was a fluke, these two fighters will come and bring it. Considering we have three rounds to settle this, I can see both fighters getting their fair share of good shots off against one another. But it will be the Olympic wrestler who gets his hand raised at the end here. “Hendo” will use his old man strength to land a knockout in the third round.

Chase: This fight is a great matchup for the sheer excitement of a good punching match. While Evans has very quick and deadly counterstrikes, Dan Henderson carries one of the deadliest punches thrown inside the cage.

Just as Brian said, the wrestling of both fighters is going to cancel each other out. This is a match that will begin standing, and end with one of them standing. The only problem that could arise is if the two become too timid to be aggressive. Fans do not want to see another patty-cake-fest from Evans, but I feel confident Hendo will not sit back and let the two just square each other up.

I think speed is Evans’ best friend though, and the thing he will want to use to win this fight. I think Hendo will catch him hard though, and we may see another stanky-leg from Evans. I will pick an H-Bomb KO in the first.

Preliminary Card

BW: Yves Jabouin (18-8) vs. Dustin Pague (11-7)

McKenna: The glaring black eye in this fight is that Pague is entering this fight with a 1-3 record in his last four. The fact that he wasn’t released from the promotion after his last fight was surprising. Look for the pink slip after his third straight loss, as Jabouin returns to his winning ways.

Chase: Definitely a must win for both fighters, but I think I will have to go with Pague on this one. He is a finisher, and I think he will come into this fight much more hungry and motivated. His striking will get the better of Jabouin, and could issue him a second KO loss in a row.

Wilcoxon:  I guess I get to settle this. Jabouin is more experienced and has faced better competition in his career. However, the flip side of the experience is Jabouin is now 34 years old while Pague is just entering his prime. I have to go with Jabouin. He has only lost to solid fighters throughout his career while Pague has lost to some questionable fighters.

LW: Mitch Clarke (9-2) vs. John Maguire (18-5)

Wilcoxon: This will be a ground battle. Maguire is a brown belt in BJJ and has secured 10 victories via submission while Clarke is a purple belt and secured six victories of his own due to tapout. Maguire is dropping down a weight class and the cut can always be a question. If everything goes well, Maguire will have a size and strength advantage. I give him the slight edge here and see him winning by a late submission or decision.

Chase: This is a MUST win for Maguire; seeing that it could very well give him his pink slip at the end of the night if he loses badly. As Richard put, it will most likely end up being a ground battle, and I think that the strength advantage will be the thing that wins him his fight and breaks his losing streak. The weight cut is the big question, but I think he will be better than before.

McKenna: Either fighter could be seeking new employment after this one is over. Don’t forget that Clarke was a perfect 9-0 before entering the Octagon and dropping two straight. While “Danger Zone” might be the best nickname in the UFC, Maguire will be too much, scoring a TKO from a dominant ground position.

BW: Roland Delorme (8-1) vs. Edwin Figueroa (9-2)

Chase: I like watching Delorme fight because he brings an exciting ground game to his fights. This is where I think he will continue to shine, and what will win him this match-up. Figueroa has better striking in my opinion though, but I think Delorme will be able to get him to the ground and lock in a choke.

McKenna:  If you ask me, Figueroa’s 2-2 record inside the Octagon is a little suspect. Keep in mind, if it wasn’t for a two-point deduction for a groin strike by Alex Caceres, he would be 1-3. Delorme earns another victory in this fight.

Wilcoxon: Make it unanimous. Delorme is just a better fighter.

WW: Sean Pierson (13-6) vs. Kenny Robertson (12-2)

McKenna: Pierson will enter the cage with one more victory than his opponent, however he is eight years older than Robertson. I want to go with the elder fighter in this particular contest, but I see Robertson winning this fight by decision. I fully expect Pierson to grind and put on a strong performance, but ultimately fall short.

Wilcoxon: This fight comes down to one question: who is the better wrestler? Both fighters have a wrestling background. However, Robertson has only lost to better wrestlers in his career. I would give the striking edge to Pierson but he will need to stay upright to implement it. I see Robertson as the younger more athletic fighter at this point in the their careers. Robertson grinds out a decision in this one.

Chase: Have to go with Pierson on this one. He hasn’t knocked anyone out in a while, but this might be his chance to shine. I will side more with a unanimous decision win, but all around go with Pierson being victorious in this one.

LW: James Krause (19-4) vs. Sam Stout (19-8-1)

Chase: Sam Stout hands down. Stout has had a back-and-forth career the last couple of years, but they guy comes to fight. Besides the fact that Stout is versed in this sport, the biggest factors at play here are the ones working against Krause. This is his Octagon debut against a much more experienced fighter in terms of caliber of opponent. This one ends with a finish for Stout, and Krause loses his winning streak.

Wilcoxon:  I don’t think this fight is as decisive as Greg does. Yes, Sam Stout is a long-time UFC veteran and has faced superior competition in his career. But recently Stout has struggled. In his last four fights he is 2-2 with a narrow split decision win over Caros Fodor and his only other win was over a shot Spencer Fisher. Krause will hold an advantage on the ground in this fight while Stout will be the better striker. Stout does have solid takedown defense and for that reason I think Stout will pull out a close decision.

McKenna: James Krause has a really tough draw for his UFC debut. Sure, “Hands of Stone” isn’t exactly knocking at the door to get a title shot anytime soon, however, just like these two have said, Stout always comes and brings it. Krause’s winning streak comes to an end as Stout gets another knockout in the second.

WW: Jake Shields (27-6-1) vs. Tyron Woodley (11-1)

Wilcoxon: My how the mighty have fallen. Just three fights ago Shields was facing GSP for the title and just two fights ago Woodley was challenging for the Strikeforce belt. Now they face off on the undercard. Shields is a BJJ master and a surprisingly good wrestler. Unfortunately for him he is facing a far better wrestler with big power in his hands. This fight is just a bad style match-up for Shields. Woodley will win this with a second-round TKO.

Chase: It’s sad to say, but yes, Shields has been reduced to the undercard, and it’s a matter of him not evolving in the areas he needs to. Shields’ grappling and submissions are there, and no one questions if he can hold his own on the mat; but his striking is something that has plagued him.

Not only that but his transitions from throwing strikes and utilizing them to get the fight to the ground. Shields has improved his striking by inches over the past couple years, and almost is getting away from what has made him successful in his career. Sort of like how Maia was trying to prove his striking game, just to look out of his element when he should have been using the tools he had. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I pick Shields to win this one though, despite Woodley having the clear striking advantage.

McKenna: This fight is a perfect fight for the main event of the undercards. You have a guy like Shields who people know as a star, taking on Woodley, an up and comer. The Skrap Pack of Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Shields have struggled recently, but I see the former Strikeforce champion winning this fight by decision.

Photo: Rashad Evans (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.