COMMENTARY | UFC 161 is in the books. At the end of the day, 11 fighters had their hands' raised. Some wins are bigger than others. Let's take a look at who came up big and who lost out in Canada.
Losing two in a row can make any fighter reevaluate their place in the game. Three in a row seems to be the death blow. Rashad Evans rebounded from back to back losses in a major way, winning a split decision victory over veteran Dan Henderson. After considering a drop to the middleweight division, the Ultimate Fighter season two winner is back in a major way. After a very tepid performance against Antonio Rogerio Noguiera, Evans seemed to find his swagger in defeating Henderson. His head movement and speed were on full display and while he wasn't successful with most of his takedowns, he mixed them up well with strikes. This is the Evans that snared the title from Forrest Griffin at UFC 92. If he keeps this up, he may be back on the short list for a rematch with lightweight kingpin Jon Jones.
Equality will be the day the women's bantamweight fighters can have a fight on par with Jake Shields-Tyron Woodley and no one bats an eyelash. We're a ways away from that and with some fans no doubt believing women don't have a place in the Octagon at all, silencing the skeptics is still important. Alexis Davis and Rosie Sexton went out and put on a show. Striking, grappling and jiu-jitsu were on display. It was another reminder that the women are just as skilled as their male counterparts.
Miocic hit the MMA lottery in his unanimous decision win over Roy Nelson. Not only was it a win, it was a one sided route over a fighter with a resume full of highlight reel KOs. Miocic was last spotted getting knocked out by Stefan Struve. The next time you see his name, it'll be on the UFC's top 10 heavyweight list.
Dana White/Joe Silva
When Jon Fitch got his walking papers from the UFC, he went from most hated to fan favorite overnight. At the time of his departure, Fitch was in the top 10 of the weight class and though his style was panned as boring, he had a record that merited another fight. After Fitch got crushed by Josh Burkman at Friday's World Series of Fighting event, the two men look like geniuses and the UFC further solidifies its standing as home of the best fighters in the world.
There's no shame in losing to Rashad Evans. Or Lyoto Machida for that matter. However, at 42-years of age, Henderson has made it clear that he's in the title chase business as opposed to the fun fight business. Far from a gatekeeper, yet not quite a title contender, the door on Henderson's aspirations for UFC gold are likely closed.
In an era where wins mean fighting another day and losses (even exciting ones) lead to the unemployment line, you have to wonder if Sam Stout's loss to James Krause earned him a pink slip. A veteran in the Octagon, Stout hasn't put together a streak longer than three wins since he entered the UFC. He's now riding back to back losses in a talent-rich division. Expect to see Stout in MMA's minor league's where he'll need to string together some wins before getting a call back to the big show.
There's nothing wrong with putting on fun fights. There's something very wrong when you find yourself on the wrong end of them. Barry is the loser of four of his last six with all four coming by way of knockout. Getting separated from your senses is the perfect way to shorten a career. Fighting like this, the most entertaining thing about Barry may end up being the reactions when his girlfriend, Rose Namajunas, is victorious in the cage.
Kudos to Roy Nelson for hopping taking this fight on short notice. But for a man who talked openly about being a win or two away from a title shot, it was a lackluster performance. Nelson was worked by a relative unknown in Stipe Miocic. His opponent was no slouch, but the varied striking of Miocic pales in comparison to the onslaught of current champion Cain Velasquez. Nelson is always a game fighter, but he's not quite ready for the upper echelon of the division.
Anthony Springer Jr. has covered mixed martial arts since 2008. His work has been published at FightNews.com, HipHopDX.com, TheWellVersed.com and Ultimate MMA magazine. He makes his home in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas. Follow him on Twitter @simplyanthony
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- Rashad Evans
- Dan Henderson
- Roy Nelson