Rashad Evans overcame a strong first round from Dan Henderson, surviving early trouble to turn the tables and earn a close split decision victory after three rounds of action in the main event of UFC 161.
Dan Henderson got going with his right hand almost immediately, then stuffed a takedown attempt by Evans to start. Evans showed off his speed but wasn’t effective in scoring cleanly as the round wore on. Henderson later connected with a stiff jab that wobbled Evans as he came forward. He followed up with a flurry of right hands that had Evans scrambling to regain his footing. Evans survived and flurried late but the round belonged to Henderson.
Evans scored a quick takedown to start the second but could not control Henderson on the ground. Evans kept control of the action on the feet pressing Henderson on the cage and landing inside with short punches. After a restart, Henderson stuffed another takedown attempt and landed with his jab as Evans came forward. A late flurry from Evans finished off a very close round.
Evans came out firing to start the third, wobbling Henderson with a multiple punch combination before resuming his attack with his jab. Henderson circled out of trouble and quickly recovered as he took the center of the cage. Evans stuck to his jab before driving in for a takedown attempt that was thwarted by Henderson. Evans landed short left hands inside while Henderson fired back with knees up the middle against the cage. Evans scored on the break as both guys swung to the bell on a round that mostly belonged to Evans.
After three rounds of action, it would be scores of 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28 that would award Rashad Evans (18-3-1 MMA, 13-3-1 UFC) the split decision victory over Dan Henderson (29-10 MMA, 6-4 UFC).