I'm not going to be charitable here - UFC 161 wasn't a good card. Sure, it had some good moments. And I'm not the type to hate on a card simply because a lot of fights went to decision. But let's face it - some horrible fights really dragged down the rest of the event. The main and co-main were decent fights, and Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton really impressed me. Shawn Jordan delivered too. But Jake Shields and Tyron Woodley did a good job of killing all the atmosphere in the featured prelim, and Ryan Jimmo one-upped them by killing any momentum the main card had. I might feel differently about the card after some reflection time, but right now I'm pretty disappointed that I shelled out coin for that.
Anyway, onto the winners and losers.
Rashad Evans - There's no point in downplaying it - this win saved Rashad's light heavyweight career. If two judges went with Hendo, we'd likely see Rashad at 185 pounds the next time he stepped into the octagon. Alas, he got the nod and picked up another big win. He desperately needed this after the loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, but I'm not really sure if this is going to bump him up as much as he thinks it will. His ultimate goal is another shot at the title, but is anyone really interested in that? Even if Alexander Gustafsson somehow upsets Jon Jones, is Rashad at the front of the line for a shot? No. He needs at least one more marquee win for people to get behind him again. And the guy he likely faces next (Glover Teixeira) is a no-win situation for him.
Stipe Miocic - Well, I didn't see that coming. That was, by far, the best Miocic we've seen in the UFC. He gameplanned well, picked his spots, and totally dominated an ill-prepared Big Country. It's easy to say that Nelson wasn't mentally there, or didn't have enough time to prepare. But those are copouts. Miocic beat the brakes off of him and didn't show any of the porous striking defense I've seen in other fights. The man is now a top-10 heavyweight in the UFC. Can't get much better than that for a night's work.
Rosi Sexton - Yes, she lost. And yes, you might be confused as to why she's gracing my list. Well, she's here because Rosi impressed the hell out of me tonight. She's a natural flyweight that was in there with a legit top-five 135-pounder, and she held her own. In fact, she beat the crap out of Davis. Stuck in a triangle? Screw that, let's just punch her in the grill for a while. A black belt has your back? Who cares, I'll spin back into guard and punch her in the face some more. Don't get me wrong - I'm a big Alexis Davis fan (Canada!) and she deserved the W for her efforts. But I thought Sexton was going to get steamrolled by a bigger fighter, and she didn't at all. She has more heart than a lot of male fighters twice her size. How can you not respect that?
Shawn Jordan - It's not like Pat Barry has an iron chin or anything. But that was an extremely impressive performance from Jordan. After the feel-out process, he just caught him and finished him in under a minute. He's now 3-1 in the UFC and while I don't exactly see him standing across from a top-five fighter anytime soon, he has now established himself as an upper-tier guy in a featured division. Not bad for 59 seconds of cage time.
James Krause - There's no way to spin his performance against Stout into a negative. The man is simply a completely different fighter than the one that got worked by Donald Cerrone in the WEC four years ago. He uses his size and reach so much more effectively now. He fought a brilliant fight against a great kickboxer, and he got 100k in bonus money for his efforts. Hats off to him, and I hope he can keep it up in a stacked division. I'll certainly be paying more attention to his next fight.
Dan Henderson - Two split decision losses in a row has to be incredibly frustrating. At 42, this loss probably eliminates him from any sort of title contendership. And when you're 42, what else are you fighting for? Paychecks are great and all that, but it's not like Hendo is hurting for coin. Unless they put a legitimately interesting challenge in front of him next time out, I'd probably find it pretty hard to get motivated if I was in Henderson's shoes. He just fell out of the top 5, so what is he supposed to get up for? A bout with Ryan Bader or someone similar? Hendo isn't going to retire, but I don't think he's going to be in a big rush to fight again unless the landscape of the division changes.
Roy Nelson - I think this one is pretty obvious. His contract demands just went in the shitter, for a lack of a better term. He gambled and lost. Roy clearly thought that if he took the short-notice fight and beat Miocic, the UFC would open their pocketbooks and reward the guy that just fought ten times on a horrible TUF contract. Instead, he got blown out by a prospect and now has to bargain from a horrible position. Will he move onto Bellator or somewhere that his name value might earn him some extra money? I don't know. What I do know is that Roy and his agent Mike Kogan just got introduced to what's known as a worst-case scenario.
Tyron Woodley - I hated everything about his fight with Shields. First off, he showed zero aggression for the first 10 minutes. I was really surprised when Dana White was crying robbery because it didn't make any sense. Was Shields blowing him away? Of course not. But he was using some volume striking, however ineffective, to take the first two rounds while Woodley looked overly cautious. I also hated Woodley's corner pumping up the fact that he just needs to land the right once to put Shields away, because it led him to throw it with zero setup and it always missed. The performance was just bad, and there's no way that Woodley deserved the decision in my eyes.
Sam Stout - He hadn't been finished in seven years, and a guy making his UFC debut chokes him out with no time left on the clock? That's not good. For all of the accolades and bonuses that Stout gets, he's 8-8 in the UFC. That's not that great, and it's pretty clear that he's a middling UFC lightweight. It's going to be pretty tough to get past that label after what happened last night.