Rashad Evans suffered through adversity in the first round against Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 161 before rallying in the remaining two rounds to claim a split decision victory.
We’re underway in the main event of the evening. Evans circles back and forth and they are both maintaining a respectful distance in the opening minute.
Henderson is measuring his right hand, but has yet to throw it. Suddenly he bursts forward with a brief flurry, but Evans is out of danger quickly.
They circle each other again then Evans pushes forward quickly with a short combination and then shoots for a takedown, but it’s unsuccessful and Hendo fires back with a few punches of his own in return.
Another quick flurry from Evans who’s engaging a little more in the early going than he’s done in the past.
They clinch against the cage with Evans briefly thinking about a takedown, but not for long and they break apart.
Evans ducks under a punch from Henderson and clinches up again before breaking part.
Solid jab from Hendo drops Evans to the mat. He seems to be ok and is trying to get up, but Henderson’s firing off more punches. It’s a tense few moments for Evans, but surprisingly he opts to stay in the pocket and fires off a punch of his own. Henderson isn’t able to fully captalize on the situation and Evans looks fine as the round ends.
Henderson looks to lands some strikes early in the second, but Evans ducks and goes for the takedown. They hit the mat for a moment, but Hendo’s straight back up and Evan’s settles for cliinching against the cage.
Not too much offense happening here and they break apart with Evans landing a nice few right hooks on the way out.
Hendo rushes forward, but opts not to throw any punches as Evans quickly retreats. Nice uppercut from Evans and another punch to follow that clips his opponent.
Evans taking the center of the Octagon while hendo’s sitting back a little and choosing his moments to launch his attacks.
Missed takedown from Evans, but in the final minute he lands a nice combination, while Henderson responds with a couple of punches of his own as the round closes.
Onto the final round then and Hendo probes forward a few times, but doesn’t find a home for a strike. Evans presses forward aggressively with a barrage of blows and it has Henderson backing up and stumbling briefly under the deluge.
He’s ok though and they reset. Nice jab from Evans takes Hendo out of his rhythm.
Evans drops down and grabs ahold of one of Henderson’s legs, looking for a takedown, but it’s defended well and he opts to let it go and clinch against the cage.
Nice couple of right hands to the body by Evans then one upstairs. Good work from Evans so far in this round and he still looks fresh at this stage.
More clinchwork now and a few short shots land from Evans, then a nice short elbow from Henderson. Hendo tries to break free and Evans clips him with a punch and re-engages in the clinch. Another nice elbow lands from Henderson and more short punches in return from the former champion.
Hendo winds up with a big right hand, but it misses and Evans responds with a crisp jab and the fight’s over – this one’s headed to the judges.
Close fight to call, and it comes down to a split decision verdict and Evans has won it (29-28 x2, 28-29).
I’d say that’s the right decision. Hendo did well to hurt Evans in the opening round, but wasn’t able to continue that momentum into the later rounds, whereas Evans stayed light on his feet, was initiating the action more often and landed some nice combnations at times in the second and third.