UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson – Main Event Preview and Guest Panel Predictions
By Dave Carpinello
This Saturday night in Winnipeg, a chance to move up the UFC light heavyweight rankings in on the line as former champions Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson square in Canada. Evans will be looking to stop the first losing streak of his career and Hendo will try to rebound from a controversial decision loss to Lyoto Machida. The winner will remain in the title hunt, while the loser will likely be on the outs for the foreseeable future.
Rashad Evans (17-3-1) vs. Dan Henderson (29-9)
UFC 161 Main Event
Rashad Evans first made a name for himself by winning the second season of The Ultimate Fighter as a heavyweight. Evans quickly transitioned to the light heavyweight division and earned a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title. Entering his title shot against Forrest Griffin, Evans had already compiled notable wins over former UFC champion Chuck Liddell, The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Michael Bisping, and The Ultimate Fighter 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar. Evans made the most of his title shot, knocking out Griffin with ground and pound in the third round.
In Evans’ first title defense, however, he was knocked out for his first career loss by Lyoto Machida in the second round. Evans rebounded with a decision win over highly-regarded Thiago Silva before appearing as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter opposite former UFC champion and PRIDE star Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Following the conclusion of the show the two fought with Evans edging out a unanimous decision.
Then Evans stopped former UFC champion Tito Ortiz with a knee to the body and punches in the second round at UFC 133. After a one-sided decision victory over Phil Davis, Evans once again fought for UFC gold but was defeated via unanimous decision by current champion Jon Jones. Following that loss, Evans had one of the worst performances of his career as he lost a unanimous decision to Antônio Rogerio Nogueira. That fight led many to question the former champion’s heart and so we will see which Evans shows up this Saturday night.
UFC Record: 12-3-1 (5 TKO/KO)
Strengths: NCAA Division I Wrestling, excellent striking, black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Weaknesses: Questionable chin, undersized light heavyweight
Key Wins: Chuck Liddell, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Phil Davis, Michael Bisping, Forrest Griffin, Tito Ortiz
Notable Losses: Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida, Antônio Rogerio Nogueira
Dan Henderson made a name for himself in the now-defunct PRIDE. With the promotion he earned the welterweight (183-pound) and middleweight (205-pound) titles simultaneously. Exiting PRIDE with two titles, Henderson joined the UFC in an attempt to unify both titles. First he challenged Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, losing by decision before then losing by rear naked choke to Anderson Silva. Henderson then won a decision over highly-regarded Rousimar Palhares before edging out former UFC champion Rich Franklin.
In his final bout with the promotion he stopped Michael Bisping with a highlight-reel knockout. Following his departure from the UFC, Henderson joined Strikeforce. He faced Jake Shields in his promotional debut for the organization’s middleweight title. After nearly stopping Shields, Henderson was then controlled for the remainder of the fight to lose a one-sided decision. He then knocked out Renato “Babalu” Sobral to earn a shot at the Strikeforce light heavyweight title, which he won by stopping Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante by third round TKO. In his last Strikeforce fight before returning to the UFC, the former Olympian scored a TKO victory over the legendary Fedor Emelianenko.
Upon returning once again to the Octagon, Henderson faced off against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in what became one the bloodiest and greatest UFC fights of all time with Henderson winning the grueling battle via unanimous decision. That win earned Hendo a shot at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 151 but that entire event was canceled when Henderson was injured a week before the event and Jones refused to face Chael Sonnen on short notice. Henderson returned from the injury to face Lyoto Machida at UFC 157 and he lost the contest by split controversial decision.
UFC Record: 6-3 (1 KO)
Strengths: Heavy hands, two-time Olympic wrestler, durable
Weaknesses: Struggles off his back
Key Wins: Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva, Rich Franklin, Michael Bisping, Kazuo Misaki, Rafael Cavalcante, Renato Sobral (2), Vitor Belfort, Rousimar Palhares, Akihiro Gono, Ryo Chonan, Murilo Rua, Murilo Bustamante, Yuki Kondo, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Gilbert Yvel, Carlos Newton, Allan Goes, Renzo Gracie
Notable Losses: Anderson Silva, Jake Shields, Quinton Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, Kazuo Misaki, Ricardo Arona, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Lyoto Machida
UFC 161 Main Event Guest Panel Predictions:
Tito Ortiz (16-11-1, UFC Hall of Fame) – “I think it will be a great fight. I think the whole PPV card looks great. I will give the advantage to Evans, he is younger, faster and the better wrestler. That said, you can never count out Dan the everlasting Hendo. This fight will be a barn burner.”
Jamie Varner (21-7-1-2, former WEC Lightweight Champion) – “One word… HENDO.”
Paul Bradley (20-5, Strikeforce and UFC veteran) – “I am going to go with Rashad by decision. I think his footwork and speed will keep him out of the way of the H-Bomb. He will pick his shots and come away with the victory.”
Muhsin Corbbrey (15-7, Shidokan World Champion) – “Hendo always has a puncher’s chance but Rashad has youth on his side. If Rashad shows up in shape he takes it via decision and activity. If he gasses he’ll be on the receiving end of Dan’s H-Bomb.”
Scott Casber (Takedown Radio) – “This will be the end for the aging warrior Henderson. No one has trained harder or with more consistency than has Hendo. His inclining years is the one thing he cannot control. Bodies break down and so does the mind. Rashad Evans is in the prime of his career and will use the storied career of his opponent to get back on track. Evans to win this one.”
Paul Daley (32-12-2, former Cage Rage British Welterweight Champion) – “Evans by decision.”
Andy Main (6-1, Ultimate Fighter Alum) – “Although this is a fight with two guys with heavy hands, I predict a not so technical grappling match. A few years back I would have said Henderson would edge it out but I think he’s almost done, and Rashad has enough fire left to take this one. Rashad by Decision.”
Rick Hawn (15-2, Bellator Season 6 Lightweight Tournament Winner) – “Hendo by TKO in round 3.”
Pete Spratt (25-22, ISKA U.S. Middleweight Champion) – “I have got the old school Hendo winning by KO. Always rooting for the old guy.”
Eric Red Schafer (13-7-2, UFC veteran) – “Rooting for Henderson, but Rashad will use his speed and takedowns to win a decision.”
Guest Panel Predictions Results:
Rashad Evans – 7
Dan Henderson – 3
Undecided – 0
UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson – Fight Card:
Main Card (Pay-Per-View):
Rashad Evans (17-3-1) vs. Dan Henderson (29-9)
Roy Nelson (19-7) vs. Stipe Miocic (9-1)
Ryan Jimmo (17-2) vs. Igor Pokrajac (25-9)
Alexis Davis (13-5) vs. Rosi Sexton (13-2)
Pat Barry (8-5) vs. Shawn Jordan (14-4)
Preliminary Card (FX):
Jake Shields (27-6-1) vs. Tyron Woodley (11-1)
Sam Stout (19-8-1) vs. James Krause (19-4)
Sean Pierson (13-6) vs. Kenny Robertson (12-2)
Roland Delorme (8-1) vs. Edwin Figueroa (9-2)
Preliminary Card (UFC Facebook):
Mitch Clarke (9-2) vs. John Maguire (18-5)
Yves Jabouin (18-8) vs. Dustin Pague (11-7)
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