The X-Factor That Could Decide UFC 161's Main Event Between Evans and Henderson

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2013

Photo credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
Photo credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

He’s renowned for his venomous right hand that’s often called the H-Bomb, but former Pride and Strikeforce champ Dan Henderson possesses lethal knockout power in both of his aging paws.

Granted, Henderson’s used his sledgehammer of a right hand to violently KO the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Rafael Cavalcante and Michael Bisping, among others.

But those who want proof of the theory that "Hendo" has major league pop in both of his hands should just dig up his second fight with the Pride organization’s most feared striker, Wanderlei Silva.

Henderson finished the epic middleweight title fight at Pride 33 with a surgical left hook that rendered “The Axe Murderer” unconscious in the middle of the canvas.

More than six years later, the 42-year-old Hendo, the UFC’s oldest fighter, will look to make his heavy hands the X-factor against the younger and speedier Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 161.

The 33-year-old Evans, a knockout artist in his own right who will enjoy a four-inch reach advantage over Hendo, has won six of his 17 fights by knockout—including TKO's of Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz and a KO of Chuck Liddell. 

Henderson confidently offered the following regarding his game plan to dismantle former light heavyweight champ Evans during a pre-fight interview for UFC 161.

I'm gonna use the best tools that I have to try to win this fight. Knocking him out is one of those things that ... it's one of my best tools. I'm definitely going to at least try to knock him silly. Put him on his back that way (and) take him down. Put him on his back there and try to wear him out.

While Henderson, a two-time Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling (1992 and 1996), may have better amateur credentials, Evans, a standout at Michigan State University, arguably has the edge in the functional wrestling for MMA category.

In Henderson's last 10 scraps, he's scored 10 takedowns and allowed 12. Evans, conversely, has piled up 23 takedowns and surrendered just 10 in his last 10 bouts.

But Evans performed uncharacteristically in his last bout against underdog Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156. "Little Nog" landed 18 more significant strikes in the bout and stuffed four of "Suga's" five takedown attempts en route to a unanimous decision win.

If Evans made a serious effort in his training camp to get back on track in the wrestling department, the former Spartan could employ a pressure-heavy game plan on Henderson similar to the scheme that Jake Shields enacted on Hendo at Strikeforce: Nashville.

Although he hasn't displayed stellar takedown defense in his latest fights, Hendo still has Olympic level Greco-Roman chops, a fact that will likely help him dictate where the fight takes place.

Henderson will look to engage in a strikefest and avoid aggressively running after the often elusive Evans. A point fight favors Evans, especially if Henderson chases him the way he pursued Lyoto Machida in his split decision setback at UFC 157.

However, if Henderson closes the distance successfully and consistently lands his left hook or patented over-hand right on Evans' jawline, then Suga will likely spend the early hours of Sunday morning in a hospital nursing a concussion.