|ESPN.com: Mixed Martial Arts||[Print without images]|
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Don't write off Rashad Evans just yet.
Looking to rebound from back-to-back losses, Evans (18-3-1) earned a much-needed win Saturday, edging Dan Henderson by split decision at UFC 161 inside MTS Centre.
The three-round fight was competitive throughout. Two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Evans, while the third had it 29-28 for Henderson.
The outcome was ultimately decided in the final round, which unquestionably went to Evans. The former light-heavyweight champion pressed the action in the final frame and landed several right hands as Henderson tired.
Also looking to rebound from a loss in his last performance, Henderson (29-10) had his best moments in the opening round. A former U.S. Olympic wrestler, Henderson easily defended Evans' early attempts at a takedown.
He dropped Evans with a stiff jab four minutes into the fight. Evans recovered, but Henderson did add a hard right to the body near the cage.
The second round could have gone either way, with Evans pushing the action but Henderson once again defending the key takedowns. Evans landed several right hands as Henderson fell into a pattern of circling to his left.
Henderson responded with offense of his own, catching Evans under the chin with a knee during an exchange.
The close middle frame set the stage for a dramatic final round. It was the second consecutive time Henderson has come up short in a fight that went the distance. He suffered a split-decision loss to Lyoto Machida earlier this year at UFC 157.
"This one I can swallow a little easier than the last one," Henderson said. "Rashad is a tough guy. He stood and fought me and he did a great job. I can't say that about the last guy I fought."
The win potentially puts Evans right back into title contention at 205 pounds. He suffered a unanimous decision loss to champion Jon Jones the last time he fought for the title -- at UFC 145 in April 2012.
Henderson, 42, falls to 0-2 in his past two fights and 1-2 since rejoining the UFC after capturing the Strikeforce light-heavyweight title in 2011.
Roy Nelson flew to Winnipeg to knock out Stipe Miocic. Things didn't go as planned.
Miocic scored a major upset and the biggest win of his career, outlasting Nelson in a three-round decision. All three judges scored the heavyweight bout, 30-27.
|Stipe Miocic displayed a dynamic striking game while pummeling Roy Nelson last June.|
"I guess this was the biggest win of my career," Miocic said. "I hit him with some big shots and he took them. I'm a Golden Gloves boxer. I believe in my boxing ability."
Nelson (19-8) took the center of the cage immediately, as he typically does, and started head-hunting with the right hand. He easily shrugged off Miocic's early attempts at a takedown, but couldn't find a home for his devastating right.
Things started to go wrong for Nelson midway through the round, when Miocic (10-1) caught him walking in with a counter-left hook. Nelson looked for a takedown, but Miocic caught him again with a flurry that forced him to cover along the fence. Miocic continued to capitalize, hurting Nelson with an elbow on the inside.
That sequence didn't put Nelson down but it had a visible effect on his conditioning. By the start of the second round, he already had resorted into throwing one wild haymaker at a time. Miocic played it well, slipping the overhand right and tagging Nelson repeatedly with combinations, capped off at one point by a knee to the chin.
Exhausted, Nelson became an easy target for Miocic's jab and right hand. In the third round, Miocic grew a bit conservative, not wanting to give up a Hail Mary shot. The Canadian crowd rallied behind Nelson, chanting "Country" in the final minutes, but he was unable to mount a much-needed comeback.
Afterward, Nelson expressed his frustration.
"I'm just annoyed," Nelson said. "I'm fine [physically]. I'm going to be sore tomorrow but he didn't hurt me. Sore and annoyed."
Miocic improves to 4-1 in the UFC. The loss came via TKO to Stefan Struve at a UFC on Fuel event in September. The loss may prove costly for Nelson, who officially finished out the UFC contract he signed in 2009.
After seeing a 17-fight win streak snapped in his last outing, Ryan Jimmo just wanted to get back in the win column.
|Ryan Jimmo earned the decision, but never managed to light up the crowd as he did in his last time in Canada.|
Jimmo managed to outpoint Igor Pokrajac in a unanimous decision, but failed to ignite the crowd as he did in his last performance in Canada. It was a fairly convincing win nevertheless, as all three judges scored it 30-27 in his favor.
"I hurt him in the first round but I couldn't follow up," Jimmo said. "I wish I had because it wasn't a great fight. I apologize to the fans."
Jimmo (18-2) nearly gave the crowd what it wanted in the second round, when he dropped Pokrajac with a hard straight right.
The light heavyweight followed up with wild hammerfists, but Pokrajac (25-10) proved to be resilient in survival mode, slowing Jimmo down within his closed guard.
The fight got off to a slow start, as Jimmo made no secret he wanted to duel it out in the clinch. A good lead left elbow landed for Jimmo late in the round, but Pokrajac responded with a big right hook that had Jimmo visibly dazed.
Ahead on the scorecards, Jimmo elected to take Pokrajac down and sit in his guard for the majority of the final round. Pokrajac managed to work to his feet with one minute to go, but couldn't land anything significant.
Jimmo is now 2-1 in the UFC. He scored a 7-second knockout over Anthony Perosh in his debut last year. Pokrajac faces possible termination from the light heavyweight roster, having lost his last three fights. One of those, a decision loss to Joey Beltran, was changed to a no-contest when Beltran failed a post-fight drug test.
Alexis Davis did get her hand raised in her UFC debut. Rosi Sexton made her earn it.
Davis (14-5) threatened to finish Sexton several times with strikes and submissions, but was ultimately forced to settle for a unanimous decision. Judges scored the bout 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27 in her favor.
"I'm so tired, I can barely speak," Davis said. "The adrenaline dump I got when Bruce Buffer said my name was awesome. I wanted to finish the fight in the first round. I landed some big elbows standing but she's tough and hard to finish on the ground."
Similar to other early UFC female fights, action got off to a furious pace. Following an early takedown by Sexton, Davis set up a triangle choke from the bottom.
Sexton (13-3) never escaped the position, but seemed content to throw punches from it. She bloodied Davis' nose with several short rights and even appeared to hurt her from a standing position, all while trapped in the choke.
Davis responded loudly in the second round. She swept into top position after an early Sexton takedown and went to work with hammerfists and elbows. She eventually moved to Sexton's back and finished the round with a series of unanswered strikes to the head.
Referee Herb Dean allowed Sexton to fight into the third, which was the correct call. Sexton moved in and out with combinations early, but a takedown midway through the round by a tired Davis all but sealed it, as she once again moved to back position.
Davis runs her current win streak to three with the decision victory. The Canadian bantamweight is 6-1 in her last seven fights, including wins over Julie Kedzie and Amanda Nunes. Sexton drops the first decision loss of her career.
If Shawn Jordan truly considers Pat Barry a friend -- you'd hate to see how he treats his enemies.
|One salvo of punches was all it took for Shawn Jordan to dismantle Pat Barry.|
Jordan jumped all over his buddy early, knocking Barry out with a barrage of punches less than one minute into their heavyweight contest.
"I came here with a job to do and I did it," Jordan said. "I wanted to keep the pressure on and I believe in myself. I'm getting better and better and more confident in the Octagon. I think I'm ready to move up, but I will take anyone the UFC says."
Just one Jordan (15-4) combination was all it took to end Barry's night. He stepped forward with a jab then threw the straight right behind it. As Barry covered up, Jordan threw a left uppercut that stunned him and another right that put him down.
Referee Jerin Valel gave Barry (8-6) every opportunity to recover -- probably excessively so. It was pretty clear early Barry was finished, as he covered up on his knees along the fence. The official time of the TKO was 0:59 of the first round.
Jordan improves his UFC record to 3-1. All three wins have been by TKO. His only loss came in a lackluster, slow decision loss to Cheick Kongo last July. Barry drops to 5-6 in the Octagon. The 33-year-old has been finished in each of his six losses.
Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.
UFC welterweight Jake Shields edged Tyron Woodley via split decision in a fight that was difficult to score due to lengthy, Shields-induced stalemates along the fence.
Referee Yves Lavigne tried to encourage action, breaking up at least one stalemate in each of the three rounds. It led to somewhat awkward final scores. Two judges awarded the fight 29-28 to Shields, while the other had it 30-27 in Woodley's favor.
ESPN.com scored the contest 29-28 for Shields.
"It was a lot closer than I would have liked, but I won," Shields said. "I was more aggressive, even though our two styles sort of canceled each other out."
|Tyron Woodley never managed to close the distance against Jake Shields.|
Woodley (11-2) came into the fight in a crouched stance, likely due in response to Shields' wrestling game. He had trouble closing the distance effectively on Shields, though, eating jabs and leg kicks any time he attempted to move forward.
He ran at Shields with a combination late in the first round, but failed to connect and ate a counter jab for his efforts.
The two opened up a bit early in the second round. Woodley landed an early overhand right, which only encouraged Shields (28-6-1) to once again force a clinch. Shields put Woodley in a front headlock at one point and landed several knees to his body as Woodley kept one knee on the canvas.
The final round may have been the slowest of the fight, provoking boos from the sellout Canadian crowd. A tiring Woodley landed one spinning backfist in the center of the cage, but Shields responded with more leg kicks, jabs and of course, the clinch.
After a brief move back to middleweight in his last fight, Shields gets back into the win column at 170 pounds. He defeated Ed Herman at UFC 150 last August, but that result was changed to a no-contest due to a failed drug test.
"I think this puts me back on the main cards and I want a Top 5 guy," Shields said. "If I could get a Rory MacDonald or someone like that, that's who I am aiming at."
Woodley drops to 1-1 in the UFC. The former collegiate wrestler won his UFC debut earlier this year in dynamic fashion, knocking out Jay Hieron in 36 seconds.
As far as first impressions go, James Krause made a good one in his UFC debut.
|James Krause worked his reach to his advantage against Sam Stout.|
Krause (20-4) submitted Sam Stout in the final seconds of his lightweight bout, catching the UFC veteran in a guillotine from off his back. Stout tapped to the choke at 4:47 of the final round.
It was a strong finish to an eye-opening performance by Krause, who extended his win streak to eight. A high left head kick highlighted the opening round for the UFC newcomer, and it opened a deep cut over Stout's right eyebrow.
"I hurt him badly in the first round with those kicks and knees but, with two weeks' notice for the fight and with him being so hard to finish, I knew I couldn't afford to go crazy to try to finish him," Krause said. "I wanted to finish him, but I couldn't chase him all around the Octagon hoping to land a bomb. I had to apply smart pressure. He hasn't been stopped since 2006, and this is a big win for me."
The length and timing of Krause's kicks bothered Stout (19-9-1) throughout the night. A pair of front kicks dropped him early. A steady, accurate jab from Krause prevented him from getting to the inside with any regularity.
Krause played it conservative in the final round, which was forgivable considering he took the fight on short notice. When Stout dove in for a late takedown, however, Krause seized on an opportunity to get the finish.
Stout's UFC record drops to 8-8 with the loss. Krause has now finished five of his last eight opponents. He went 0-2 in a brief stint with the WEC in 2009, losing to current UFC fighters Donald Cerrone and Ricardo Lamas.