Rashad Evans edged past Dan Henderson at UFC 161 in Winnipeg, using a solid third round to help secure the close split-decision win (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Henderson won the first round easily, dropping Evans with a well-placed jab when Rashad moved in. Henderson proceeded to knock his opponent around a little bit, but Evans was able to regain his composure and keep it from being a quick fight.
That's when he turned the corner.
The second round was about as evenly played as possible. Evans hit Henderson hard with a right hand, but Henderson was able to connect with a solid knee later in the round. Both exchanged blows down the stretch, proving to be up for a battle.
While some believed Henderson could have won the second round, Evans was the aggressor, and that carried on into the third and final round. Evans' aggressiveness also ended up determining the fight.
Henderson appeared gassed in the third, trying to counter Evans' flurry of hits with a big shot, which he ultimately never landed.
Said Henderson after the fight, via Dann Stupp of USA Today:
There's nobody to blame but myself. That third round, I slowed down. I should have gotten more active...I thought I hurt him bad in the first and second rounds, so I thought I got those.
Evans added, "After getting dropped in the first round, I knew I won the second, but I needed to come out strong in the third."
This puts the 42-year-old Henderson in a dubious situation (29-10 MMA, 6-4 UFC). He's lost his last two fights via split decision and clearly tailed off at the end of his fight with Evans.
As for Evans (18-3-1 MMA, 13-3-1 UFC), he likely stays in contention for a title bout with Jon Jones. This was a big and well-deserved win for the former champ, who was coming off back-to-back losses to Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Henderson was No. 3 in the UFC's official light heavyweight rankings. Evans was ranked No. 6.
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