Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans Set as New Main Event for UFC 161

Damon Martin@@DamonMartinContributor IMay 21, 2013

With Renan Barao now officially out of UFC 161 due to injury, the promotion has bumped up one of the featured bouts on the undercard to main event status.

The UFC announced via Twitter on Tuesday that the light heavyweight bout pitting former champion Rashad Evans against former Strikeforce and Pride champion Dan Henderson will now take the main event slot at UFC 161.

UFC officials also confirmed with Bleacher Report that the new main event will be a three-round fight.  Typically all main events (even non-title fights) are scheduled for five rounds, but because Henderson and Evans are bumping up to the headline spot on short notice, their fight remains a three-round bout as scheduled.

Barao suffered torn ligaments in his foot that forced him out of his scheduled title fight against top contender Eddie Wineland, and it left the UFC in a precarious position with less than a month to go until UFC 161 takes place on June 15 in Canada.

The UFC has now turned to the co-main event on the card to fill the headline slot with Evans taking on Henderson in a light heavyweight showdown.

Evans returns to action at UFC 161 following back-to-back losses in his last two fights with his eyes set on redemption.  The former UFC light heavyweight champion suffered a defeat at the hands of his former teammate Jon Jones at UFC 145 last year, and followed that up with a  lackluster performance against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in February as well.

Now Evans has a chance to get back on the horse again and return to his winning ways with a main event bout against a legendary multi-weight class champion.

For many years, Dan Henderson has been considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet with a willingness to literally take on all challengers.  He was both the middleweight and light heavyweight champion when Pride Fighting Championships was bought out several years ago, and went on to capture the Strikeforce light heavyweight title as well.

Henderson even managed to bump up to heavyweight for a bout against iconic heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, and the Team Quest fighter won by knockout in the first round.

Following a disappointing loss in his last fight to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157, Henderson now hopes to jump right back into title contention with a win at UFC 161.

He'll face Evans in the new main event for UFC 161, which goes down on June 15 from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The new co-main event for the card is expected to be another light heavyweight fight pitting former champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report