The last eight months for Dan Henderson haven't gone the way he expected them to go after signing on for a long awaited UFC light heavyweight title shot in 2012.
Henderson was supposed to face champion Jon Jones at the ill-fated UFC 151 show last September, but the former Strikeforce and Pride title holder suffered a knee injury that forced him off the card, which was ultimately cancelled.
Once he was healthy again, Henderson was still targeting a fight with Jones, but instead of placing him in the next bout against the champion, the UFC opted to put his former teammate Chael Sonnen in the title fight—and a run on The Ultimate Fighter as coach.
So Henderson moved forward to a fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 157 with a title shot on the line, and when the fight was over he thought he did enough to walk away with a win. Despite the fact that the fight was anything but a barnburner, Henderson moved forward the entire time and tried to engage Machida with what little action actually happened.
The judges disagreed, however, and awarded Machida the decision victory.
Now months later, Henderson has moved on as best he can from the loss, although truth be told it's still not a loss he believes he should have on his record.
"I don't know if there's anything I can use as motivation going forward," Henderson told Bleacher Report recently. "The whole fight was just a stupid fight. Not a whole lot of action happened, I kind of chased him around and he ran and tried to counter strike here and there. Not a whole lot happened in the whole fight. It was almost a meaningless fight to me.
"A loss in a fight like that isn't as bad as in a fight where I get my butt kicked or get choked out or something. I thought I did enough to win, but I wasn't judging the fight. Seems to me it's kind of hard to win a fight when you're not trying to fight."
Henderson might have a point when looking at his fight with Machida as "meaningless" because the winner was supposed to challenge for the belt next, but instead the Brazilian now faces Phil Davis at UFC 163 and not the champion Jon Jones.
It also didn't help Machida much that he already fought Jones somewhat recently and lost rather emphatically by guillotine choke in the 2nd round.
Henderson, however, still has never faced Jones and believes that a win over Evans, especially if he can finish or dominate the former champion, goes a long way to proving he belongs right back in the title hunt.
"I feel like if I do have an impressive win then I'm right back in there," Henderson stated. "I think a not so great performance but a win does something for me, but not a lot. I'm sure I'll just fight somebody else at that point. An impressive win over Rashad would possibly put me right in there. That's still one of my goals, that's why I'm doing this."
Henderson's long standing desire to fight Jones still burns inside of him, and he knows that if he can be impressive as the main event at UFC 161 a title shot isn't far off.
"I definitely have some unfinished business with Jon Jones," Henderson stated. "Hopefully that happens for myself, Jon Jones and the fans."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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