UFC 161 will feature a main event with two of the very best in the world looking to reestablish themselves as serious contenders.
While no titles will be on the line June 15 in Winnipeg, expect to see fireworks with these three bouts that all have big implications for the prospective winners.
Tyron Woodley vs. Jake Shields:
Woodley certainly has the momentum in this bout after a flash knockout in his UFC debut. Although his athleticism has helped him end fights with punches, he is most known for his wrestling, holding a takedown defense of 88 percent and an average of 2.53 takedowns per contest.
Shields will be hungry coming off of a bout with Ed Herman that was ruled a No Contest after testing positive for banned substances at UFC 150. Shields holds 11 submission victories and would make things difficult for Woodley if he decides to take him down.
If Woodley does take Shields down, he could very easily get caught in a submission. And since Shields doesn’t like to strike despite his improvement in the area, expect Woodley to try to control the fight standing up.
With an impressive showing, the winner likely moves into the Top 10 in the welterweight division.
Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans:
Rashad Evans dropped a lopsided unanimous decision tilt to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his last bout, a fight in which Dana White questioned his desire, via mmajunkie.com.
"To be honest with you, Rashad and I have a good relationship," White said. "I like Rashad a lot. He's a good guy, a smart guy. But he has lost that hunger. He's lost that desire and drive, and he needs to get it back. There's no doubt about it."
"Hendo" also looked lackluster last time out, losing by split decision to Lyoto Machida. But everyone knows that his "H-Bomb," can put anybody to sleep before they know what hit them.
This fight will be Evan’s heart and fast hands against Henderson’s power, as both guys will be looking for an impressive knockout.
Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic:
Nelson has 12 knockouts in his career and is coming off of a fight in which he gave Cheick Kongo his walking papers with a first-round knockout. People love him for his fat gut and ability to take punishment; just see the Junior dos Santos fight.
Miocic is a worthy opponent, holding seven knockouts in his nine career victories. He’s coming off a loss to Stefan Struve, but expect Miocic to trade with Nelson.
It sounds like a bad move given Nelson’s power, but that’s exactly what makes this matchup the most interesting on the card to me. If Miocic can somehow withstand Nelson's power, then we’re looking at a future contender. If not, at least we got to see another assault by “Big Country.”
All six of these men compete in divisions that seem to have clear No. 1 fighters currently holding UFC titles. Each can earn top contender status with wins.
The motto of UFC 161 is simple: Don't blink.