The main event of UFC 161 featured a light heavyweight match up between former UFC champion Rashad Evans and mixed martial arts legend Dan Henderson, with both men looking for the win and potentially one final run at the title in their careers. With a a possible title shot on the line, Henderson and Rashad had a lot to gain with all eyes on them in Winnipeg.
Both fighters came out early, with Evans looking more explosive than we have seen him in his previous outings. Henderson was staying patient looking to land his “H-Bomb”, but Evans’ hand speed was too much early in the fight. Evans looked to shoot for a takedown after a few minutes on the feet, but Henderson was able to stuff the takedown and get some separation. Henderson was able to land a heavy shot that dropped Evans with just one minute to go, but the former champion was able to regain his composure and go back on the attack.
In the second round, Evans was able to get Henderson up against the cage, but Henderson rotated back to the center of the octagon and landed another barrage of heavy punches. Evans shook off the punches and went back to pressing Henderson up against the cage. While it wasn’t the most entertaining action, it was great advertising for the new Lone Ranger movie starring Johnny Depp which had a conveniently placed ad.
Evans came out with an extra pep in his step in round three, and he was able to land a solid flurry that dropped Hendo. Evans stayed patient and backed off from his injured opponent who remained dangerous, and it paid off as he was able to continue stalking Henderson and eventually pushed him back up against the cage.
It wasn’t the most appealing fight, but Rashad was controlling the action and often held the dominant position. Evans really came alive in the third round and was making a statement in round three, which had to have left a lasting impression with the judges when they tallied up their final scorecards.
When the judges read their scorecards, Rashad Evans earned the split decision win — 29-28 Henderson, 29-28 Evans, and 29-28 Evans.