UFC 161 will go down on Saturday, June 15, 2013 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Home to the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets. The event was supposed to be headlined by UFC interim Bantamweight champ Renan Barao fighting Eddie Wineland, Barao had to pull out with a foot injury, opening the door for Rashad Evans vs Dan Henderson to take over the main event spot. In terms of light-heavyweights, this card has some pivotal battles with #3 Dan Henderson fighting #6 Rashad Evans and #4 Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fighting #7 Mauricio Rua. A big win for any of these contenders would catapult them up the ladder into a match-up which could decide the next number one contender to Jon Jones’ crown.
Dan Henderson vs Rashad Evans a year and a half ago would have been an awesome match-up between two guys who were extremely close to fighting for the title. Today, it is a little less important considering Evans already lost to Jones and had a lackluster performance in a decision loss to Rogerio Nogueira. Besides a loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157, Henderson hasn’t fought since November, 2011 after a knee injury knocked him out of a title shot vs Jon Jones that was supposed to happen at UFC 151. At 42 years of age, the time is now if Henderson wants to receive another elusive title shot. Evans and Henderson have a combined 34 wins in Pride and UFC and amazingly, the two have just one knockout shared between them. (Evans lost to Lyoto Machida via KO in May, 2009) Overall, the stats tell us basically what we would expect. Henderson is the more proficient striker, always looking to land the huge ‘H’ bomb, while Rashad favours takedowns, landing an average of 3.54 takedowns per 15 minute fight. Our model has Henderson as a slight favourite in the match-up (even though many people see him just chasing Rashad around as Rashad counter-strikes). We placed a 1 unit bet on Henderson at 2.04 to 1.
The co-main event as well, is between two legends of the sport in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Often overshadowed by his heavyweight older brother, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Rogerio has been able to string together two straight wins over Tito Ortiz and a surprising decision victory over Rashad Evans at UFC 156. Both these guys have also know what it takes to win at this level with a combined 31 wins in Pride and UFC. Rua is the heavier striker of the two with 3.62 strikes landed per minute. Nogueira on the other hand lands 2.29 strikes. Rua also has a large advantage in takedowns with 2.38 takedowns landed per fight vs Nogueira’s measly 0.79. Nogueira has shown in recent history that he is content to stand back and counter strike, but it is unlikely he will be able to outstrike Rua. Our model has Rua as a favourite so we placed a 1 unit bet on Shogun at 1.64 to 1.
In a heavyweight match-up between two middle of the pack heavyweights, our model has Pat “HD” Barry defeating Shawn Jordan. Both fighters are known for their striking, but Jordan showed he has some holes in his game in his previous fight against Mike Russow. Russow dominated the first round, but lacked the cardio for a multi-round fight and Jordan was able to take advantage to earn the TKO victory. Barry on the other hand is a former professional kick boxer who has shown throughout his UFC tenure that he has the ability to knock his opponents out at a moments notice. We placed a 1.5 unit bet on Barry at 1.87 to 1.
In another heavyweight match-up, our model has Roy Nelson to defeat Stipe Miocic. Miocic is a former division 1 wrestler, but has also shown he has the striking game to succeed in MMA with knockouts of Philip De Fries and Shane Del Rosario. Nelson, on the other hand, is a knockout machine with all 6 of his UFC wins coming by KO or TKO. He has also shown that he doesn’t leave himself open to big punches with his 3 UFC losses coming by way of decision. Not only does Nelson have a great stand-up game, he is a brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie and when on top, his 265 lbs frame is difficult to get off. We placed a 1 unit bet on Nelson at 1.44 to 1.
In our final prediction for this article, we move to the welterweight division, where Tyron Woodley will meet up with Jake Shields. Woodley will be fighting for the second time in the UFC after his 36 second disposal of Jay Hieron at UFC 156. Shields, on the other hand, will be returning to action following a suspension after a failed drug test at UFC 150. We expect ring rust to be somewhat of a factor after Shields’ 10 month layoff. Surprisingly, to us however is that Woodley is actually the favourite in this fight, with the line sitting at 1.58 to 1 for Woodley. Our model has Woodley as only a slight favourite, so we will hold off on placing a bet on this one to see how the line moves closer to fight time.
Henderson over Evans. 1 unit at 2.04 to 1
Rua over Nogueira. 1 unit at 1.64 to 1
Barry over Jordan. 1.5 units at 1.87 to 1
Nelson over Miocic. 1 unit at 1.44 to 1
Woodley over Shields
Here are the latest UFC 161 odds: