UFC 161: FX Card Previews and Prognostications

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

The FX card for UFC 161 pits not just the usual array of former prospects and journeyman against each other, but former champions and past UFC contenders as well.

UFC 161 follows the Facebook card up with a solid list of FX bouts that includes a former champion, and a UFC title contender.

Jake Shields (27-6-1-NC) vs. Tyron Woodley (11-1) Welterweight

Before Shields entered the UFC, I predicted, not unlike some others, that it would be a tough transition. Not just because the competition would be tougher, but because he would encounter a lot of tough stylistic matchups. Outside of the UFC, Shields didn't have to deal with many of the high powered wrestlers that permeate the octagon.

By no means has Shields been a bust, but 2-2-Testosterone isn't all that impressive despite the impressive competition. Some still argue his decision over Kampmann was questionable (I'm not one of those people, but it wasn't a lights out performance). But the win was enough to earn him a title shot against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129 in a bout that didn't garner either fighter many fans.

Woodley is the complete opposite. Whereas people were excited to see Shields enter the UFC, Tyron's critics practically drooled from the mouth in anticipation of his failure. His style hasn't earned him much goodwill from the Just Bleed community.

What both men can do: I actually like Woodley. No, he's not a firecracker in the cage, but he has the capacity to turn into a Rashad Evans-type fighter; exciting in the right matchup, and elite competition with enough improvement. Woodley is your typical wrestle-boxer, but a stronger pedigree than most wrestle-boxers. And with a bit more power in his punches. This is largely why Woodley has frustrated so many fans: the ability to dominate is there, but victory only manifests itself in conservative performances.

Woodley is obviously gifted with top control, but one of the things he's improved on has been his striking. His last two bouts were blistering. He straight murdered Jay Hieron, and had Nate Marquardt rocked on several occasions. Part of this comes from more comfort on the feet, not just throwing one power punch at a time, but combination and leg kicks in addition.

Shields excels at top control submission grappling. He's gifted at passing guard, and that's pretty much it. His jab has developed quite nicely too. It nearly won him a championship.

What both men can't do: Still, Shields is a liability on the feet. While he can jab, and throw inside leg kicks efficiently, he's got zero power. Plus his defense is incredibly porous, which is hard to explain after all these years.

Expect Woodley to land a bomb at some point. And by "at some point" I mean "with violent regularity". I don't see how Shields wins this. Woodley will defend the takedown easily because it's not like Jake has an insane shot, and Tyron won't be threatened in the feet, where he'll have more than enough time to land punches.

Prediction: Tyron Woodley by KO.

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

With Stout fresh off his victory over Caros Fodor, he's facing late notice James Krause, who is replacing Isaac Vallie-Flagg.

The man they call "Hands of Stone" because that's what he was once called, logic or historical validation be damned, continues his erratic UFC career. Sometimes he'll look great, as he did against Yves Edwards, and sometimes he'll look static, and inert, even in victory (see the Fodor match). Krause is also coming off a victory, his over Toby Imada, punctuating a 7-fight winning streak.

What both men can do: Stout has always been a saavy striker. He's not especially dynamic, but he's a good example of how far fundamentals will take you, regardless of power (or lackthereof). Stout is known more for taking a few to give a few, but he'll take it to the ground where possible. This fight won't be one of them.

Krause is a ground specialist. He didn't get to show us much, losing to Justin Lawrence before entering the house on the Ultimate Fighter, but he's very active on the ground from his back. He excels at creating scrambles in order to transition into a guillotine, or triangle (his historical go-to submission of choice).

What both men can't do: Unfortunately Krause isn't much on the feet. He's a big LW, however, standing at 6-2 and to his credit, tends to use his reach well, but he doesn't utilize his reach enough to make an impact. He has good kicks, and a straight right, but that's it.

Stout's problem is that he develops a rhythm that never turns into urgency (ala Tyson Griffin). He's happy doing the tit-for-tat thing. Which will be fine against Krause, who will be outstruck on the feet.

Prediction: Sam Stout by Decision.

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

Sean Pierson is a journeyman on an unlikely winning streak, having scored victory in his last two bouts.A former member of the Toronto police force, he'll be looking to extend that streak against Robertson, who is coming off a brilliant modified kneebar win over Brock Jardine at UFC 157. So brilliant, Bloody Elbow identified the name of that atypical submission: the Suloev Stretch.

The matchup: Both guys like to throw leather. Pierson is a gritty striker with moderate power, and not much else. His boxing is solid, and it'll look even better against Robertson's head-down method of throwing haymakers. Kenny is a bit more able on the feet than just a collection of right hand bolos, even owning a spinning backfist knockout over Lucio Linhares; the least impressive KO with that technique you'll ever see, which is not to take away from the victory, but it's flukish to say the least.

Still, he's prone to these unorthodox tactics, and Pierson should watch out for them. Robertson is the hot pick, and for good reason. His only losses in the UFC were to solid competitors in Aaron Simpson and Mike Pierce. His dynamic style should earn him points over Pierson, who will make this bout difficult for Robertson but not impossible.

Prediction: Kenny Robertson by Decision.

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

In the lone bantamweight fight of the undercard, it's Delorme vs. Figueroa in what should an exciting, back and forth tilt. Both guys are are technically coming off losses to Francisco Rivera (Delorme's loss was overturned when Rivera tested positive for banned substances).

The matchup: Delorme has been a pleasant surprise since his Ultimate Fighter stint. With his excellent grappling chops, he's shown to be a handful, and even somewhat of a talent on the ground. His opponent, Figueroa is the exact opposite. Edwin made his debut against Michael McDonald in a highly entertaining scrap that saw both men exchange strikes with reckless abandon.

I like Edwin in this fight. While Delorme has proven himself a talent on the ground, he's still a liability on the feet, has yet to be submitted. He's show himself to have chops on the ground anyway, but I expect him to keep the fight on the feet.

Prediction: Edwin Figueroa by TKO, round 2.


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