UFC 161: June 15, 2013 MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada UFC Welterweight Contender Tyron Woodley (-180) Profile: Tyron Woodley (11-1) is coming off an extremely successful UFC debut in which he knocked out Jay Hieron in just 36 seconds. Nine of his first 11 bouts came in Strikeforce, including a knockout loss to Nate Marquardt for the welterweight title last July. The 30-year-old wrestler started his career by submitting his first five opponents, including his first three in Strikeforce. Prior to the loss to Marquardt, Woodley had seen his previous three bouts all go to the judges, including a split-decision victory against rising star Jordan Mein and unanimous decision wins over Paul Daley and Tarec Saffiedine. He proved in those fights that he is fully capable of scoring points and grinding out wins yet also showed off his power in stopping Hieron. Woodley looks to be entering the prime of his career and will be a dangerous opponent for whoever stands in his way moving forward. UFC Welterweight Contender Jake Shields (+140) Profile: Jake Shields (27-6-1, 1 NC) has seen and done almost everything you can in MMA. He was a Shooto champion, won a Rumble on the Rock tournament and earned Elite XC welterweight and Strikeforce middleweight titles, defending the latter against current UFC light heavyweight contender Dan Henderson. The 34-year-old MMA veteran’s UFC tenure has been less impressive than his resume would suggest, however. Despite winning his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann, it was marred by talk of Shields not being an exciting or dominant fighter in the big leagues. He edged Kampann via split decision before losing his welterweight title shot against champ Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129. Shields followed up his loss to GSP – his first in six years following 15 straight wins – with a horrible knockout loss to Jake Ellenberger in September of 2011 but bounced back with an unconvincing unanimous decision win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144. Unfortunately, he proceeded to fail a post-fight drug test after his next bout against Ed Herman, turning a decision win into a No-Contest.
Opening UFC 161 Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Woodley a slight -180 favorite (bet $180 to win $100) while Shields opened as a +140 underdog (bet $100 to win $140) at Several Bookmakers sportsbook. Woodley’s career is clearly trending up, especially after how he dismantled Hieron in his UFC debut. Meanwhile, Shields is coming off a six-month suspension following a failed drug test and appears to be on the downside of his career. He is four years older than Woodley and has 23 more bouts under his belt, giving him a huge edge in experience. However, he has also bounced between middleweight and welterweight, returning to the latter for this fight after his NC against Herman at 185. Woodley is a true welterweight who is looking to climb the ranks and would do just that if he can beat a bigger name in Shields. Hieron was cut by the UFC following his loss to Woodley, so he was not really a great test for the former Strikeforce title contender. A step up in competition against an accomplished vet like Shields will give MMA fans a better idea of how to judge Woodley in comparison to other UFC welterweights. The last four wins for Shields have come via decision, so he knows how to fight smart and score points with the judges. It has been nearly four years since he stopped an opponent, so you can expect Shields to try to outwork Woodley, who has also been known to follow that same strategy. Like Shields, Woodley is an excellent grappler, so whoever gets takedowns and controls from the top will likely earn the victory.