UFC 161 was supposed to be so much more than what it is now. Injuries have caused the card to become meaningless in many fans’ eyes but there are still some pivotal match-ups that litter the card.

One of those is the evening’s main event. Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans are both looking to bounce back from ugly losses and will look to do so at the other’s expense. Although both men desperately need a win, Evans is undoubtedly the one who needs it more.

For starters, Henderson is only coming off one loss and that win snapped a four-fight winning streak that saw Hendo finish three of his four opponents. That also included an MMA classic against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Henderson also lost to a man many believe to be the second best light heavyweight in the world, Lyoto Machida. The loss also didn’t make Henderson look too terrible in the Octagon.

The same cannot be said for Evans. His loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was downright awful to watch. The two men engaged in 15 minutes of playing pattycake and yet somehow judges had to decide a winner. Ultimately Evans was pegged as the loser and seemed to lose more than just a fight; he appeared to have lost any desire to actually fight. His comments following the loss only confirmed this and suddenly the word retirement became a common theme when discussing Evans’ future.

Not only did Evans suffer an ugly loss to Nogueira at UFC 156, it also was Evans’ second in a row. Prior to that Evans had been toyed with for nearly five rounds as Jon Jones used “Suga” as a punching bag. After suffering two consecutive defeats, it appears Evans has found that desire needed to become a top fighter in the UFC. Evans has added more individual training to go along with time spent at the Blackzillians camp. He’s also found a source of motivation from a friend of his.

“One thing Ray Lewis always does is make sure his head is right by doing offseason training,” Evans said. “He gets up early and gets his workouts in. Those are the things that harvest the fight inside of him. You have to do these things as an athlete to get to the next level (Las Vegas Sun).”

Indeed it seems Evans’ has found that heart for fighting at UFC 161. He desperately needs it to maintain his position among the best light heavyweights in the world. He likely won’t get another crack at Jones due to the dominant manner in which the champ won, but with Jones’ expected departure to the heavyweight division on the horizon, the door could be open for one last shot at UFC gold for Evans.

But Evans also has another option that could be affected by his performance at UFC 161. There were rumors prior to the Evans-Nogueira fight that “Suga” may drop down to 185 pounds for a shot at UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva. Those conversations came to a halt after Evans’ loss, but a win over Henderson (a former champion at 185 pounds) could put Evans in a No. 1 contender’s match at middleweight.

Evans has potentially two title fights on the line against Henderson and it’s hard to argue that any fighter has as much to gain by having their hand raised as the former light heavyweight champ does. A loss would almost certainly end any chance of Evans remaining relevant in whichever division he competes in, while a victory should ensure him a place near the top of the rankings at 205 pounds or 185 pounds.

Photo: Rashad Evans (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.