With the card's original main and co-main events scrapped because of injuries, the company's brass had to improvise significantly to avoid cancelling UFC 161 tonight at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Renan Barao and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira each suffered injuries and were forced to pull out of their previously scheduled main and co-main events bouts against Eddie Wineland and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, respectively.
However, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, along with company president Dana White, refused to allow another UFC 151-like debacle to sabotage UFC 161. Instead, Silva and White restructured the card at the last second, putting together several enthralling fights that will make the event pay-per-view worthy.
Here are three can't-miss scraps to will take place at UFC 161.
Though neither fighter appears desperate in terms of job security just yet, Jake Shields and Tyron Woodley each have reached crossroads in their MMA careers.
Shields should have earned his second straight win in the UFC when he decisioned Ed Herman in his last bout at UFC 150. Instead, the 34-year-old former welterweight title challenger failed a post-fight drug test and had to settle for a no-contest.
Woodley, conversely, scored the most impressive win of his career in his last outing by brutally knocking out Jay Hieron at UFC 156. In the fight before that, however, the former Division I All-American wrestler suffered his first setback, a violent knockout at the hands of Nate Marquardt at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy.
Because the loser of this bout will likely fall to gatekeeper status at 170 pounds, plenty will be at stake when these two former college wrestlers lock horns in the last preliminary scrap on FX.
Woodley may hold a slight edge in the wrestling department, although the former Missouri University standout must remain cognizant of Shields' venomous Brazilian jiu-jitsu chops.
Marquardt represents the lone fighter to attempt a submission on Woodley in his career, a fact that Shields, who has 10 wins by submission, will certainly try to change.
The UFC's brass rarely pits a fighter on a winning streak against someone coming off a loss, but that's precisely what happened when surging heavyweight Roy Nelson got paired with Stipe Miocic in the co-main event of UFC 161.
Because the UFC had to scrap the night's original main event and co-main event, Miocic's first opponent, Soa Palelei, was removed from the card. The UFC wisely replaced Palelei with the always prepared "Big Country," effectively bulking up the main card.
A 2.2-to-1 underdog (+220) against the fifth-ranked Nelson (-280), according to Bovada.com, Miocic will look to bounce back from his first loss, which he suffered via TKO at the hands of Stefan Struve at UFC on Fuel TV 5.
A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, Miocic definitely needs to minimize his mistakes when he squares off with the lethal Nelson, a longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who TKO'd Struve at UFC Fight Night 21.
But the raw but extremely talented Miocic could score the most significant win of his career if he can utilize his seven-inch reach and his edge in the wrestling department.
Struve, however, already proved that Miocic can be dropped, a fact that doesn't bode well against one of the division's coldest knockout artists.
If Miocic can't control the distance on his feet—or if he finds himself on the bottom if the fight hits the ground—then Nelson will undoubtedly stretch his winning streak to four and inch closer to his first heavyweight title shot.
It's always a tantalizing event when the UFC's oldest fighter, former Pride and Strikeforce champ Dan Henderson, graces the Octagon.
Despite being 42 years old, Henderson still possesses skills that are on par with his UFC 161 main-event opponent, 33-year-old Rashad Evans.
Only an untimely knee injury prevented "Hendo" from facing light heavyweight champ Jon Jones at UFC 151.
But after pulling out of a fight for the first time in his 16-year career, Henderson dropped a split decision to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157.
Just a few months later, Hendo got word that he'd get a crack at Evans, a former light heavyweight champ who's on a two-fight losing skid for the first time in his career.
Like Hendo, the UFC's third-ranked light heavyweight, the sixth-ranked "Suga" will attempt to get back into title contention with a win over a fellow legend.
Recognizing the superb resume of each fighter, the oddsmakers have predicted that Henderson and Evans will be a tightly contested match. According to Bovada.com, Evans has been named a 1.4-to-1 favorite (-140) over Henderson (+110).
If the oddsmakers are correct, Hendo vs. Suga could either result in a lackluster decision win for one of the two, or it could generate the type of back-and-forth action that a classic battle like Henderson vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua produced at UFC 139.