The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is half way through it's 2013 stretch as on Saturday night (June 15, 2013) the organization wrapped up its sixth pay-per-view (PPV) event of the year --UFC 161-- from the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Two of the UFC's most accomplished light heavyweight fighters squared off in the main event with former champion Rashad Evans slightly edging Dan Henderson by split decision after three competitive rounds.
Both men badly needed a win after entering the event on the heels of extremely unimpressive defeats and while neither fighter looked poor, only one could walk away with the decision and ultimately the judges saw it in Evans' favor.
The undercard on PPV was far from the most exciting of the 2013 campaign, although it did have it's memorable moments with Stipe Moicic and Shawn Jordan earning victories that surprised a majority of fans watching the event.
In a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on UFC 161 fight card as well as an equal amount of disappointments. With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in Winnipeg.
The Biggest Winner
Rashad Evans needed a victory oh so badly on Saturday night and he did just that, outscoring Dan Henderson by the thinnest of margins for a hotly contested split decision win.
It wasn't the most breathtaking performance, but "Suga" got the job done against an extremely durable and resilient opponent to put himself back on the map in the UFC light heavyweight division.
Entering the fight on the heels of two-straight one-sided defeats, a victory for Evans was absolutely critical if he wanted to stay relevant in the sport. And when the pressure was on, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 2 winner came through in spades.
The Team Blackzilians fighter said prior to the event that he rediscovered his fire and passion for the sport and was eager to get a second fight with reigning 205-pound champion Jon Jones.
And even though he still has a lot of work to do to get there, a second match up with "Bones" certainly isn't viewed with the same type of lunacy as it was a few months ago after his horrible showing against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156.
Stipe Miocic spoiled Roy Nelson's party for the biggest upset on the UFC 161 fight card by using a brilliant game plan to outpoint "Big Country" en route to a dominant unanimous decision win and the most significant victory of his MMA career.
Miocic was viewed as a gimme fight for Nelson going in, but he had different plans for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10 winner and implemented a solid strategy that was heavy on solid footwork and crisp boxing.
The 30-year-old frustrated Nelson, never allowing him to connect with his massive overhand right and in a shocking effort, completely outclassed the No. 5 ranked heavyweight in the UFC.
A lot of the luster regarding Miocic being one of the brightest prospects in the weight class died after his loss to Stefan Struve in Sept. 2012; however, he rebounded in a big way and looked much improved on Saturday night.
No matter what excuses are made for Nelson's performance, there is no taking away from the fact Miocic was one of the biggest winners of the night and earned a career-defining victory that will move him in to the top-10 of his division.
The Biggest Loser
Roy Nelson took a huge gamble by turning down a UFC contract offer and taking the last bout on his contract against Stipe Micoc on short notice in hopes of putting on a performance that would earn him an even bigger contract.
Needless to say, that gamble did not pay off whatsoever.
"Big Country" delivered arguably the worst showing of his UFC career as he allowed the unranked Micoc to pick him apart with strikes for three straight rounds and looked horrible fatigued after just minutes of fighting.
More so than usual, Nelson was completely out of shape and it appears there's good chance he could have underestimated his opponent by taking the fight on just a few weeks notice.
Nelson entered UFC 161 with more momentum than any heavyweight in the world with three straight first-round knockout wins, and in just one fight his value has plummeted dramatically.
It is a well known fact Nelson is not UFC President Dana White's biggest fan and his performance matched with the fact he has been a thorn in White's side from the moment he joined the UFC roster, it's far form a guarantee that Nelson's next fight will take place inside the Octagon.
Dan Henderson couldn't afford a loss to Rashad Evans if he ever hoped to reach a UFC title shot, and unfortunately the dream of becoming the first fighter to ever hold PRIDE, Strikeforce and UFC championship belts may have come to a bitter end with a split decision loss at UFC 161.
"Hendo" is a legend of the sport and has accomplished more in his career than most fighters will ever come close to, but at 42 years of age and on his first two-fight losing streak since 2008, the end may be closer than Henderson thinks.
It's unlikely that Henderson is going to hang up the gloves right now, especially since he has yet to be knocked out in 39 professional fights (an incredible feat) and gave Evans all he could handle and debatable should have won. But his chance of once again earning that elusive title fight with Jon Jones has likely completely slipped through his fingers at this point.
There are still plenty of intriguing match ups for the former Olympian to participate in going forward, especially since he mentioned after the event that he would consider a return to middleweight. However, Henderson has always been a very goal-driven fighter and it's difficult to determine whether or not he wants to stick around if there's no chance of fighting for a world championship.
Who were your biggest winner and loser from UFC 161? Let us know in the comments in the comment section below.
For more news and notes on the event, click here.