Even coming off a disappointing loss at 42 years of age, former Pride and Strikeforce champ Dan Henderson still demands respect from oddsmakers.
Henderson, the oldest fighter on the UFC's roster, has been deemed a 1.1-to-1 underdog (+110) by Bovada.com against the 33-year-old Rashad Evans in tonight's main event bout at UFC 161.
With that said, former light heavyweight king Evans has dropped his last two bouts, including a substandard setback against underdog Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156.
Sporting a four-inch reach advantage as well as edges in a few other pertinent categories, though, "Suga" deservedly got the nod as the slight favorite in this matchup of two former NCAA Division I wrestlers.
While both Henderson and Evans have fought to decisions in their last two respective bouts, it was "Hendo" who resembled the sharper and more prepared contender in that span.
Evans, the UFC's sixth-ranked light heavyweight, dropped back-to-back unanimous decisions to Jon Jones and "Little Nog" at UFC 145 and UFC 156, respectively.
The company's third-ranked 205-pounder, Henderson, on the contrary, outshone Mauricio "Shogun" Rua for a unanimous decision win in an epic battle at UFC 139. Hendo then dropped a split decision to Lyoto Machida in his last bout at UFC 157.
Evans certainly heads into this fight with more pressure on his shoulders, although the former Michigan State wrestler will have the upper hand in a few significant areas.
A two-time Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling (1992 and 1996), Hendo may sport the better amateur credentials, but Evans arguably possesses the edge in functional wrestling for MMA.
In Henderson's last 10 scraps, he's notched 10 takedowns and allowed 12. Evans, on the other hand, has racked up 23 takedowns and surrendered just 10 in that span.
Also, at his best, Evans moves with the speed and agility of a welterweight. Like Machida did at UFC 157, he'll likely use his speed advantage to control the distance and try to nullify the venomous hands of Henderson.
But Henderson has notoriously heavy hands—particularly his right hand, which is commonly referred to as the H-bomb. As such, the Californian definitely represents the most dangerous striker Evans has faced since he outlasted nemesis Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 114.
Because Henderson's defensive wrestling chops will likely deter Evans from attempting to engage in a pressure-heavy, ground fight, I envision these two slugging it out on their feet for three rounds.
If the elusive Evans can use his quickness and footwork to employ a similar scheme to what Machida used against Hendo, then the former Arizona State wrestler may suffer his second straight boring decision loss.
However, if Henderson can successfully close the distance against Suga and consistently get on the inside with his H-bomb, Evans may need smelling salts to wake up by night's end.
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