This weekend, former UFC champ Rashad Evans will meet Pride’s two-division champ Dan Henderson in a matchup that presents huge implications in the league’s light heavyweight division.
Each fighter has his own strengths, and if these are utilized come fight night, fans are bound to witness a classic matchup between two veterans of the sport of MMA.
Evans is known for his speed and combinations which he often utilizes to set up takedowns. His fights against Thiago Silva and Quinton Jackson are some of the classic examples of how he uses this game plan. In those fights, Evans was able to land some shots against his opponents and use his wrestling to nullify his opponents’ punching power.
Meanwhile, Henderson made a name for himself for knocking out opponents using his punching power. At UFC 100, Michael Bisping became one of the victims of Henderson’s trademark punch dubbed as the “H Bomb.” After the Bisping knockout, three more MMA veterans found themselves on the receiving end of a KO loss courtesy of Henderson’s punching prowess: Renato Sobral, Rafael Calvante and Fedor Ermelianenko (the list goes on).
With that said, the winner of Evans vs. Henderson should be determined through the extent in which one of them could be able to maximize his strengths against the other.
For Evans to win, he should time his takedowns by using his fast combinations. He should be aware that standing too long with Henderson presents a huge amount of risk no fighter in the light heavyweight division would like to take.
If he couldn’t take Henderson down, Evans should circle away from his opponent’s right hand by using his quick footwork. While doing so, Evans should aim to land jabs and ultra-quick combinations for him to get a nudge on the judges’ scorecards, because we know that Henderson has a solid chin and is difficult to stop (see his fight against Shogun Rua).
Oppositely, Henderson’s chance of winning this fight depends on how he can time Evans coming in and land his overhand right on his opponent’s chin. Evans is not known to have a durable chin so it is pretty much a fact that if Henderson lands one punch at the right place, the fight would be probably over.
His only trouble is Evans’ takedowns. Avoiding them will be a tough task for Henderson. What he should do is punish Evans with powerful strikes every time he attempts a takedown. If he can do this, he should be able to make Evans think before ducking and hesitate in his takedown attempts.
Destroying each other’s game plan by utilizing their strengths should be the aim of both fighters. At the end, determining who wins between a fighter who has power and someone with admirable speed still depends on who will be able to properly execute his game plan and exploit his opponent’s weakness.
My prediction: Henderson knocks out Evans in the second round.