There were plenty of winners from Saturday night's UFC 161. Rashad Evans lined himself up for another potential shot at a championship, Stipe Miocic made himself a household name, and Ryan Jimmo bounced back from a loss in impressive (albeit boring) fashion.
But MMA, like any sport, is a zero-sum endeavor. For every winner we saw on Saturday night, we saw a loser; for every career we saw launched or resurrected, we saw another get grounded or put to sleep.
A few of Saturday's fighters turned in major disappointments—some were short, some were long, but all were fatal to their chances of winning.
Here are the three biggest ones that we witnessed.
Dan Henderson's Third Round
I touched on this a little bit last night, but it bears repeating: Dan Henderson got whooped in the third round. Evans looked young, sharp and quick and won; Hendo looked old, tired and slow and lost. It wasn't a pretty sight.
Evans didn't knock Henderson out, but his urgency was palpable. And that's what's so distressing/disturbing about Henderson's third round: He didn't match with any urgency of his own.
This fight was billed as a last gasp for two aging fighters: The winner may get another shot at a belt; the loser may be done for good. After fighting two very good, very even rounds, the denouement of that billing was coming to a head. Two of the sport's all-time greats had five minutes to show that they weren't through.
That's precisely what Evans did and precisely what Henderson lacked. He took a fusillade of punches and backed himself timidly into the cage. There was no manic desire to prove he still belonged on the top rung of mixed martial artists, just reservation to the beating at hand.
Maybe I'm being melodramatic. After all, considering his advanced age, Henderson did impress me in the first two rounds. But that made his performance in the third all the more betraying.
Roy Nelson's First, Second and Third Rounds
Dan Henderson looked (potentially) over the hill in the main event, which will probably steal most of the headlines. Even I'm at fault: I did lead this piece with Henderson over Nelson.
By my, oh my, oh my, let's not let Henderson make us forget about Nelson. The former only wilted at the end of his bout, while the latter looked lost bell-to-bell.
Stipe Miocic dominated Nelson on Saturday night, making the fat-bearded fighter look more like a fat-bearded bar wench. Nelson's poor shape is usually sort of a hustling mechanism, luring ripped foes into a sense of security before falling victim to his right hand.
But against Miocic, Nelson's rounded waist served only as a hinderance, slowing him down while the better physical specimen—taller, faster, stronger, etc.—went to town for three rounds.
By the end of Round 2, Nelson was pleading for oxygen like Moses Malone at the end of a celebrity basketball game. When he came out for Round 3, it was only his incredible chin, the stuff of legends, that kept him from being knocked out.
Miocic was supposed to be a stepping stone for Nelson, an avenue to get back to championship-level fights. Instead, it looked more like the beginning of the end.
Pat Barry's One Minute
Barry's all-or-nothing approach—the refusal, win or lose, to go the distance—looks brilliant when it works. On nights like tonight, though, where it did anything but work, it makes Barry look like a buffoon.
Since winning a decision over Joey Beltran over two years ago, Barry's following six fights have gone:
|Shane del Rosario||Win||KO|
None of those fights made it to the third round, but tonight's was particularly discouraging. Berry had momentum to work off after his win against del Rosario—an opponent he felled in only 26 seconds.
Instead of capitalizing, though, Barry lost in just over that time, leaving himself exposed to a flurry of punches less than a minute into the fight.
At least he stayed true to form.