Why UFC 161 matters

With Renan Barao pulling out of the main event due to an injury, UFC 161 is left with what many would consider a fight with little watch appeal. However, there is still a lot to look out and get excited for despite the lack of a title fight as the main event. UFC 161 may not break any PPV buy records but still has a very good chance of being a great card.

Why UFC 161 matters

Starting with the prelims, five-time fight of the night winner Sam Stout takes on UFC newcomer James Krause. Win or lose, Stout’s excellent Muay Thai and boxing skills always make for an entertaining bout. A professional with over 20 fights to his credit, Krause has fought everywhere but the UFC. He is a huge 155 standing at 6′ 2” and is currently riding a seven fight win streak. The 27 year old Krause also boasts 12 career submission victories. Even though he is making his debut against a long standing UFC veteran, Krause has the tools to be very successful in the UFC and his path to stardom could start on Saturday.

The main event so to speak of the prelims will be two former Strikeforce stars battling it out at welterweight as Tyron Woodley fights Jake Shields. Woodley started his UFC career off with a bang by knocking out Jay Hieron in just 36 seconds. That KO power might not a be a factor in this one as Shields will most likely look to take this fight to the mat. After a brief return to 185, Shields has decided to give another go at 170.

No contest or not in his last fight, I think Shields is better suited for 170 and needs a win to remind himself and fans a like that he still is one of the best in the world. Woodley is a very young and exciting fighter that got a shot for a title in Strikeforce and wants to get the same chance in the UFC. A win over Shields puts Woodley into the title discussion and on the map as budding star for the UFC’s already deep welterweight roster.

To the main card, where heavyweight KO artists Pat Barry and Roy Nelson will be featured taking on two young fighters in Shawn Jordan and Stipe Miocic respectively. I don’t think Nelson or Barry are capable of having a boring fight and with a combined 6 KO and 3 fight of the night awards, these two are can’t miss. Everybody loves a knockout and this card features two of the best in the world at doing it.

UFC 161 will also feature a woman’s fight between Alexis Davis and Rosi Sexton. Both are excellent ground fighters, with each having seven career victories by submission. With the injury to Cat Zingano and as a result, Miesha Tate filling in for her as the next title challenger, this fight now has bigger title implications.

The winner would most likely would face Sara McCann in a title eliminator bout, since Zingano won’t be able to get her shot until sometime in 2014. The UFC needs more ladies to emerge as legit contenders to Rousey to make this division viable. Both ladies have the talent but their performances may affect how non Rousey woman’s fights are promoted in the future.

The new main event of 161 is a three round tilt between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans. Despite a loss to Machida a few months ago, Henderson is still very much in the title picture at 205 and a win may give him another shot at the championship. Henderson is always worth tuning in for and who knows how many more times after this we will get to see him step into the cage.

Besides the KO power of Henderson, this fight is intriguing on the side of Evans because he needs a win just to stay relevant. His last performance was rather lack luster and many are questioning his desire to compete in the sport. If he loses, talks of retirement or a move down to 185 will start up and they are moves Evans should consider if he fights like he did against Nogueira.

UFC 161 may not be the most glamorous card but as I have pointed out, there are many reasons to watch it. Last week, the UFC had what many would deem a irrelevant card in Fuel 10 but come to pass that 10 of the 12 bouts were finishes and eight were submissions. This card has a little more star power than that card but I see no reason that it can’t deliver at least half as many finishes. I’m not sure what it is but these cards that don’t seem all that important end up being some the best shows. UFC 161 will air on Pay-Per-View at 10pm eastern tonight.

 

-Follow me on Twitter @jimgramm

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