UFC 161 LIVE CAGESIDE BLOG FROM WINNIPEG
By Ryan Pike @RyanNPike for the Wrestling Observer
Welcome to our live coverage of UFC 161. As usual, Dave Meltzer will be doing his live play-by-play of tonight's event, but I'll be providing cageside coverage from on-site at a very-packed MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg.
There has been strong turn-out at most of the UFC pre-show events in the city so far this weekend, and this appears to be an early-arriving crowd. We're still close to 30 minutes to the first Facebook fight ad the MTS Centre is half-full and buzzing, with all sections filling at about the same rate.
YVES JABOUIN VS. DUSTIN PAGUE
-Big pop for Joe Rogan as he walked out to the broadcast position. The arena is about 80% full for the first fight, which is just crazy.
-Jabouin is 3-2 in the UFC, Pague is 1-3. Jabouin closed as a strong favourite (-335) on Bodog. Jabouin is nearly nine years older than Pague. Neither guy has fought since last summer (Pague has been off since August, Jabouin since September).
-Big reaction for Pague. Jabouin entered to the Mortal Kombat theme song and immediately became the most beloved fighter in this bout. Crowd was white-hot through the fight, quick to react to takedowns and good strikes (and even reversals) but slow to boo. They were rather quiet during some lengthy grappling stretches during the second and third round. The beloved Yves Jabouin got the win to the great delight of the crowd.
MITCH CLARKE VS. JOHN MAGUIRE
-Clarke s 0-2 in the UFC, with both of his UFC bouts taking place in Canada. Maguire's 2-2 in the Octagon. Clarke last fought in Calgary last July, while Maguire fought in November. Maguire closed as a fairly strong favourite (-240).
-Maguire came out with a pink headband and belly-shirt to the theme from Flashdance. Crowd considerably less excited to see him than they were to see the guys in the first fight. Clarke out to the Rolling Stones to a big crowd reaction.
-Maguire clung to Clarke's back like a spider-monkey for about a full minute in the first round. Fight went to the ground in the second and crowd generally hated it. Crowd was generally quieter for this fight than for the opener, although they really got into Clarke's late third-round comeback flurry, which likely won Clarke the round (and the fight).
ROLAND DELORME VS. EDWIN FIGUEROA
-Delorme is from Winnipeg and has a 2-0 record (with one no-contest) in the UFC, while Figueroa is 2-2 in the UFC. Delorme's been off since July, while Figueroa last fought in February. Delorme closed as at -205, making him the favourite. The crowd loved Delorme and booed Figueroa at weigh-ins, as you'd expect they would (and also reacted loudly to the mention of Winnipeg in the pre-fight video.)
-We're pretty close to 100% full here in the arena. Impressive crowd tonight. Deafening crowd reaction to Delorme's introduction and crowd's reacting to everything he does – including a very loud “Rollie” chant. I'm quite surprised that they reacted so well to what was mostly a grappling match – albeit a good one. Crowd was understandably pleased when Delorme got the unanimous decision win in his hometown.
SEAN PIERSON VS. KENNY ROBERTSON
-Pierson has a 3-2 UFC record, while Robertson is 1-2 in the Octagon. Pierson has been off since September, while Robertson fought in February. Pierson closed as a slight favourite over Robertson at -140. Robertson is replacing an injured T.J. Waldburger.
-Decent bout, although it felt like the crowd was burnt out from the previous fight. Cool spot late in the fight; after spending majority of third round in trouble, Pierson gets caught in a rear-naked choke, but powered out of it. Pierson won via majority decision, which didn't really match up with how a lot of people scored the fight – both online and in the arena. Either way, Canada remains undefeated through four bouts.
SAM STOUT VS. JAMES KRAUSE
-Stout has a 8-7 UFC record, including winning a bunch of fight bonuses, while Krause is making his UFC debut. A late replacement for Isaac Vallie-Flagg, Krause was on the first live season of the Ultimate Fighter, but lost to Justin Lawrence for a spot in the house. Krause fought last in January, while Stout has been off since February. Stout closed as a strong favourite at -265 and was a crowd favourite at weigh-ins.
-Krause showed absolutely zero “Octagon jitters,” going toe-to-toe with Stout for three rounds. With the cards (probably) even and Stout likely winning the third round after a late third-round takedown, Krause caught him in a guillotine for the late, late submission win with just 13 seconds left. A huge win for Krause, but Stout acquitted himself quite well.
JAKE SHIELDS VS. TYRON WOODLEY
-Shields is 2-2 with one no-contest in the UFC, while Woodley is 1-0. Shields hasn't fought since his bout with Ed Herman last August, while Woodley beat Jay Hieron in February in his UFC debut. Woodley looked great at weigh-ins and was cheered, while Shields looked a bit gaunt and was lightly booed. Woodley closed as a clear favourite at -200.
-Crowd is somewhat quiet for Woodley, but really doesn't like Shields. Perhaps a residual impact from his bout with Georges St-Pierre? Crowd had no patience for the clinch game, and outside of booing, were equally loud during the round breaks as they were during the rounds. Crowd really hated all over this thing in the third. Woodley incredibly flat, barely tried any takedowns, Shields dictated entire fight outside of a small handful of flurries by Woodley. I guess looks aren't everything after all, as this fight unfolded exactly opposite how I would've guessed.
-Woodley seems to have taken the third on all three scorecards, but also got one 30-27 score. Shields wins this via decision. Prelims ran long, as they got Woodley and Shields out of the cage at 8:55 local. No Baba O'Riley video for Winnipeg, sadly.
PAT BARRY VS. SHAWN JORDAN
-Barry is 5-5 in the UFC, while Jordan boasts a 2-1 record. Barry last fought in December, while Jordan fought in January. The crowd at weigh-ins loved Barry, who closed as a very slight favourite (-120, versus Jordan's -110).
-Winnipeg crowd loves Barry, who trains out of Minnesota. Quick but pretty exciting bout. Jordan and Barry exchanged, Jordan got the better of it and went right in for the kill, finishing him with nearly a dozen rapid-fire left hands. Despite knocking out their beloved Pat Barry, the crowd seemed to love this fight (and Shawn Jordan for providing action after the Woodley/Shields bout). Barry was also extraordinarily happy, despite the fact that he lost.
ALEXIS DAVIS VS. ROSI SEXTON
-This is the first UFC appearance for both fighters, and the first female UFC bout to take place in Canada. Davis fought in Invicta in January, while Sexton has been idle since last June, though she was slated to fight in October before he opponent withdrew due to illness. Davis is a huge favourite at -450.
-First round was great, with a Davis having Sexton in a triangle but Sexton fighting it and punching her in the face. Second round was mostly Davis, and last minute or so was mostly Davis pummelling Sexton from the back mount with punches. Sexton survives, but barely. Bout was mainly grappling and ground fighting, but the crowd was very respectful, although a lot quieter than they were for most of the card. Davis takes it via unanimous decision, giving Canada a 5-1 record on the show to this point.
RYAN JIMMO VS. IGOR POKRAJAC
-Jimmo is 1-1 in the UFC and Pokrajac has a 4-4 record with one no-contest. Pokrajac fought last in December, Jimmo in February. Jimmo's a pretty big favourite at -270.
-The Winnipeg crowd's love/hate relationship with jiu-jitsu continues. The crowd hated with a vengeance a lengthy session of clinching near the cage involving Jimmo and Pokrajac, but they were (a) fine with a section of the fight on the ground and (b) completely fine with a lengthy (and somewhat quiet) section of the Davis/Sexton fight on the ground. For what's been a very educated MMA crowd tonight, that quirk confuses me.
-Fight in the crowd during the announcement of the decision. Crowd seemed transfixed by it and completely ignored the decision and Jimmo's promo.
ROY NELSON VS. STIPE MIOCIC
-Nelson is 6-3 in the UFC (and on the last fight of his deal), while Miocic is 3-1 in the UFC. Miocic last fought way back in September, while Nelson fought in April. Nelson's a big favourite at -280. Crowd loved Nelson at weigh-ins and at the show, but it's helpful that he walked out to Queen. Crowd saw Nelson as probably the second-biggest star on the show (after Delorme).
-Pockets of the crowd were chanting “Let's Go Nelson” and “Country.” Crowd reacted to everything Nelson did and were loudly concerned when it seemed like he was in trouble – so basically for two-thirds of the fight. To his credit, Nelson never seemed in a lot of trouble, he just seemed extraordinarily winded. Thus, the handful of times where he clocked Miocic and he fled, Nelson didn't have the ability to chase him down.
-Crowd booed Miocic a bit during his promo, which is almost definitely a reflection of their love for Nelson. Miocic fought a very smart, very strategic fight. Nelson tried to get on camera, but the broadcast apparently cut away.
RASHAD EVANS VS. DAN HENDERSON
-Evans brings a 12-3-1 record into the Octagon, while Henderson is 6-3 in the UFC prior to this bout. Both men last fought in February. Evans is a slight favourite at -140.
-Crowd boos Evans, goes nuts for Henderson – just like at weigh-ins. Good buzz in the building for the whole thing, particularly with the sense that the fight could end at any time. Both guys had good flurries and seemed to have each other on the ropes. The fans got a bit vocal near the end with boos when neither fighter was engaging, and when they were clinching on the fence. Loud mix of cheers and boos at the end of the fight.
-Overall, the event felt like a “better” version of the Calgary show. The crowd seemed to get burnt out after the prelims finished and, outside of the Barry/Jordan fight and pockets of action here and there on the main card, the show wasn't amazing. That said, the show was miles ahead of the Calgary event last summer. It wasn't as good as everyone had hoped, but it wasn't nearly as bad as many had feared.