UFC 161 may not showcase a champion. It may not have a spectacular knockout or even leave the winner as a top contender. The fact is this event features a 42 year old MMA great and a well-rounded 33 year old contender — both coming off losses. Why should you waste your time?
Another fact? Dan Henderson is a fan favorite. Henderson put on a legendary MMA war with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in November 2011. He is also a former PRIDE Middleweight and STRIKEFORCE Light Heavyweight champion. At age 42 he is at a level many 25 year olds can only dream of. Henderson is brilliant wrestler, grappler and underrated striker. When Henderson is on the top of his game he is destined for the highlight reel.
Would about something on Rashad Evans? He is coming off a less than gratifying performance in a close loss to Antonio Rodrigo “Little Nog” Nogueira. That doesn’t define Evans at his best. He gets wins when it becomes a necessity. On Saturday he needs a win. He needs to bust through — showing his elite-level Jiu-Jitsu and Gaido-Jitsu at the biggest stage in all of the sport.
Why should you care? Both men showcase a diverse and efficacious ground game and striking ability. You’ll see some outstanding ability showcased and on paper it should be a real treat for an MMA fan of any kind. While Henderson is arguably a good favorite there is no doubt in the mind of any educated observer that this is far from a blow-out.
Henderson is a more raw; scrappy; fighter. He will let his hands go, he will take you down, and he will rough you up. Evans will need to keep a steady base and control the grappling game to avoid the beating Henderson plans to deliver. Make it pretty.
Henderson is a very imperious fighter. He relies on his own momentum to boost him past struggles. Henderson needs to corner Evans; put his skills on lock down. To do that he must never hesitate — letting his hands, knees, and kicks fly until he has an opportunity to take down Evans and do some more physical damage. Henderson likely prefers a faster pace; fight now, think later. If he can manage to do this and not allow Evans the time to think, plan, he will win this fight.
If Evans can box his way in, fight carefully, and keep his grappling skills up front — he’ll win this fight. It mainly depends on his gameplan and how he plans to defeat Henderson. Dan Henderson is virtually impossible to beat in a slugfest — he looses only in a chess match. How will Evans avoid this? How will Evans demoralize Henderson? That is your answer to why you should tune in to UFC 161.