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UFC 161 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Rashad Evans a popular choice to top Dan Henderson in Winnipeg

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Rashad Evans stands on the scale during weigh ins for UFC 156 Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.

UFC 161 features one of the closest main event matchups imaginable, a light heavyweight bout so evenly matched that oddsmakers opened both fighters at a pick’em price.

Only the Sun’s picks panel doesn’t see it that way. All five prognosticators went with Rashad Evans to beat Dan Henderson on Saturday in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The betting market has also shifted slightly in favor of the former UFC champion. Evans currently sits as a minus-130 (risking $1.30 to win $1) favorite with Henderson coming back at plus-110 (risking $1 to win $1.10) at William Hill sports books.

The odds may trend back toward the middle before Evans and Henderson enter the octagon to cap off a night of pay-per-view action, but the picks below are locked in.

Read on for a breakdown, betting odds and picks for every fight from KSNV’s Kevin West (58-24 year-to-date), ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (56-26), Las Vegas Sun’s Ray Brewer (56-26), ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (54-28) and Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (54-28).

Dan Henderson

  • Age: 42
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 29-9
  • Out of: Temecula, Calif.
  • Betting line: +110

Rashad Evans

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’11''
  • Weight: 204
  • UFC record 12-3-1
  • MMA record 17-3-1
  • Out of: Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Betting line: -130

Light Heavyweight Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Split-decision loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157.

Punch list: Henderson wants his piece of Jones, too. This fight likely eliminates one of the veterans from ever getting their chance to take on the champion. Henderson can’t fathom losing his shot considering he already earned it before getting hurt, leading to the cancelation of UFC 151. He’s spoke of “unfinished business” with Jones and the champion welcomed the challenge.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Evans

Cofield: Evans

Last fight: Unanimous-decision defeat to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156.

Punch list: Evans dreams of getting another shot at light heavyweight champion Jon Jones after losing to his former teammate by unanimous decision last year. If that can’t convince fans Evans still possesses the fire to compete, then he feels like nothing will. A statement victory over a fighter as decorated as Henderson, though, could suffice.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Evans

Brewer: Evans

Okamoto: Evans

Stipe Miocic

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 239
  • UFC record: 3-1
  • MMA record: 9-1
  • Out of: Euclid, Ohio
  • Betting line: +210

Roy Nelson

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 258
  • UFC record: 6-3
  • MMA record: 19-7
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -250

Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Lost to Stefan Struve by second-round TKO at UFC on Fuel TV 5.

Punch list: Miocic finds himself in the opposite camp as Nelson. It’s almost as if the considerable promise heaped upon him was forgotten after one loss. Going into the Struve fight as the favorite, many referred to Miocic as a future contender at heavyweight. A knockout loss and nine-month layoff, not to mention a 30th birthday, appears to have changed the perception.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Nelson

Cofield: Nelson

Last fight: Knocked out Cheick Kongo in the first round at UFC 159.

Punch list: Big Country’s quest for a title shot continues in an unforeseen manner. After a third straight first-round knockout, UFC President Dana White spoke optimistically about booking Nelson against one of the top five heavyweights in the promotion. Instead, the local product took a short-notice fight to fulfill the final part of his contract. With Nelson’s current tear, it’s difficult to remember he had lost three of four fights just 15 months ago.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Miocic

Brewer: Nelson

Okamoto: Nelson

Igor Pokrajac

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record: 4-4
  • MMA record: 25-9
  • Out of: Zagreb, Croatia
  • Betting line: +215

Ryan Jimmo

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 17-2
  • Out of: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Betting line: -255

Light Heavyweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: No contest, overturned from a unanimous decision loss, against Joey Beltran at UFC on FX 6.

Punch list: Like Jimmo, Pokrajac also sports a loss to James Te Huna on his record. Only there was nothing controversial about the Croatian’s setback. Te Huna knocked him out in his UFC debut. Despite a rough 1-3 start to his UFC stint, Pokrajac went on to win three in a row before his latest loss.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Jimmo

Cofield: Jimmo

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to James Te Huna at UFC on Fuel TV 7.

Punch list: Let’s agree to give Jimmo a pass on his last loss, or at least allow him an opportunity to right it Saturday. Many believed the fight should have been scored as a draw after Jimmo nearly finished Te Huna early. Additionally, Jimmo hadn’t lost in six years — since his first professional fight — before the defeat.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Jimmo

Brewer: Jimmo

Okamoto: Jimmo

Rosi Sexton

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 5’4''
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record: 0-0
  • MMA record: 13-2
  • Out of: Manchester, England
  • Betting line: +320

Alexis Davis

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’5''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record: 0-0
  • MMA record: 13-5
  • Out of: Port Colborne, Ontario
  • Betting line: -380

Women’s Bantamweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Fight

Last fight: Defeated Aisling Daly by unanimous decision at Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 47.

Punch list: “The Surgeon” is perhaps the most anonymous female fighter signed so far by the UFC. The promotion plucked her from Cage Warriors Fighting Championship in England to join the new division. She’s the odd one out of the 11 female fighters in the UFC rankings’ top 10.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Davis

Cofield: Davis

Last fight: Submitted Shayna Baszler by rear-naked choke in the third round and Invicta 4.

Punch list: Every women’s fight in the UFC is billed as the first of something. This is the first one the UFC has brought to Canada. Davis is considered the second or third best fighter who’s yet to face champion Ronda Rousey. To keep her place in line, it would help if she got her third straight finish against Sexton, who’s perceived as over-matched.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Davis

Brewer: Davis

Okamoto: Davis

Shawn Jordan

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 251
  • UFC record: 2-1
  • MMA record: 14-4
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: Even

Pat Barry

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 240
  • UFC record 5-5
  • MMA record 8-5
  • Out of: New Orleans
  • Betting line: -120

Heavyweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Opener

Last fight: Knocked out Mike Russow in the second round at UFC on Fox 6.

Punch list: With his back against the wall following a tedious decision loss to Cheick Kongo, Jordan performed admirably his last time out. The win over was his 10th knockout victory, but the best one in terms of opposition level. The former LSU fullback also came back from losing the first round to secure the victory.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Jordan

Cofield: Jordan

Last fight: Knocked out Shane del Rosario in the second round at “The Ultimate Fighter” 16 finale.

Punch list: Barry hasn’t lost the power that made him a K-1 veteran five years ago. The question is whether he can take a punch as well as he could back then. Two of Barry’s last five fights have ended with him getting knocked out. In fairness, he’s won by knockout in two of his last three fights but took some shots that rocked him in the process.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Barry

Brewer: Jordan

Okamoto: Barry

Tyron Woodley

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 11-1
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: -180

Jake Shields

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 27-6-1
  • Out of: San Francisco
  • Betting line: +160

Welterweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Knocked out Jay Hieron in the first round at UFC 156.

Punch list: T-Wood got sick of hearing people label him as a boring fighter, so he went and did something about it. The right hand he used to floor Hieron was among the biggest punches of the year. If Woodley can mix that level of striking with his Division-I All-American caliber wrestling, he might be a future title contender.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Shields

Cofield: Woodley

Last fight: No contest, originally a unanimous-decision victory, against Ed Herman at UFC 150.

Punch list: Are Shields’ best days behind him? This bout should go a long way in answering that question. Either way, his UFC tenure has largely been a disappointment. Both of his decision victories were razor-thin, and he’s been inactive for 10 months following a positive drug-test at UFC 150.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Woodley

Brewer: Woodley

Okamoto: Woodley

James Krause

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 165
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 19-4
  • Out of: Blue Springs, Mo.
  • Betting line: +215

Sam Stout

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 8-7
  • MMA record 19-8
  • Out of: London, Ontario
  • Betting line: -255

Lightweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Defeated Toby Imada by unanimous decision at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 6.

Punch list: Few guys come back from losing on the elimination round of “The Ultimate Fighter” to have a successful UFC career. That’s the challenge standing in front of Krause. Seen as one of the favorites of the “TUF: Live” season when the cast was announced, Krause got knocked out by Justin Lawrence before ever entering the house.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Stout

Cofield: Stout

Last fight: Beat Caros Fodor by split decision at UFC 157.

Punch list: Stout has alternated wins and losses in every fight since the beginning of 2012. He’s never strung together anything longer than a two-fight win streak in the UFC. A win here, however, would give him his third two-fight streak in the UFC and likely return him to the main card.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Stout

Brewer: Stout

Okamoto: Stout

Kenny Robertson

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-2
  • MMA record 12-2
  • Out of: Spring Bay, Ill.
  • Betting line: +120

Sean Pierson

  • Age: 37
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 13-6
  • Out of: Toronto
  • Betting line: -140

Welterweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: First-round submission victory over Brock Jardine at UFC 157.

Punch list: February’s pay-per-view card proved a major coo for Robertson. In addition to effectively saving his job in the UFC after two losses to start his time in the octagon, he earned a $50,000 Submission of the Night bonus. That should complement his salary as a high school woodshop teacher nicely.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Pierson

Cofield: Pierson

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over Lance Benoist at UFC 152.

Punch list: Don’t call it a re-invention, but the former Toronto police officer has done something right to build himself back up. Pierson is on a two-fight winning streak, leaving memories of a disappointing skid of equal length two years ago as a distant memory. The Punisher’s best attribute is his wrestling ability.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Robertson

Brewer: Robertson

Okamoto: Pierson

Edwin Figueroa

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 9-2
  • Out of: McKinney, Texas
  • Betting line: +185

Roland Delorme

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 8-1
  • Out of: Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Betting line: -215

Bantamweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Second-round TKO loss to Francisco Rivera at UFC 156.

Punch list: Even if Figueroa drops his second in a row in Winnipeg, his job with the UFC is probably secure. That’s because he embodies all that the promotion asks for it out of its fighter. Figueroa is never in a dull fight, all four of his bouts in the octagon have been heavy on action.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Figueroa

Cofield: Figueroa

Last fight: No contest, overturned from a knockout loss, against Francisco Rivera at UFC 149.

Punch list: Submissions are Delorme’s game. To be specific, Delorme likes to go to his rear-naked choke. That’s how he secured both of his UFC victories and two more wins before reaching the big show. Delorme should have extra motivation fighting in front of his hometown.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Delorme

Brewer: Delorme

Okamoto: Figueroa

Mitch Clarke

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 154
  • UFC record: 0-2
  • MMA record: 9-2
  • Out of: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Betting line: +210

John Maguire

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record: 2-2
  • MMA record: 18-5
  • Out of: Cambridge, England
  • Betting line: -250

Lightweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Split-decision loss to Anton Kuivanen at UFC 149.

Punch list: Also a loser of two straight, Clarke needs a victory in the worst way. He came into the UFC with a fair amount of build-up due to his undefeated record but got knocked out by John Cholish in his debut and couldn’t establish a rhythm against Kuivanen. Like Maguire, his strengths rest in the grappling department.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Maguire

Cofield: Maguire

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Matt Riddle at UFC 154.

Punch list: Maguire burst onto the UFC scene with two victories a year-and-a-half ago. Coupled with the “gypsy jiu-jitsu” persona he created for himself, he rose quickly in popularity. Unfortunately, it’s been all downhill from there. Maguire has lost two in a row and enters UFC 161 needing a win to keep his job.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Maguire

Brewer: Maguire

Okamoto: Maguire

Dustin Pague

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 136
  • UFC record 1-3
  • MMA record 11-7
  • Out of: Centreville, Va.
  • Betting line: +270

Yves Jabouin

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 18-8
  • Out of: Montreal
  • Betting line: -330

Bantamweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Chico Camus at UFC 150.

Punch list: “Disciple” hasn’t stepped in the cage in 10 months, a break well-deserved considering how quick of a turnaround he made a year ago. Pague fought twice in two weeks last June — submitting Jared Papazian before losing a decision to Ken Stone. He was back in August for the loss to Camus, which puts him in a must-win situation against Jabouin.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Jabouin

Cofield: Pague

Last fight: Knocked out by Brad Pickett in the first round at UFC on Fuel TV 5.

Punch list: The Tristar Gym-trained Jabouin had torn through three straight opponents before getting caught against Pickett. At his current pace, the striker seems destined to be a bantamweight always just outside of the top 10. He’s consistently beaten fighters when he’s favored, but slips up when starting to sniff the upper reaches of the division.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Jabouin

Brewer: Jabouin

Okamoto: Jabouin

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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