Former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Dan Henderson looked good in his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, putting up an instant classic against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139. Henderson will face the winner of the Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones matchup, presumably later on in the year.
A well respected wrestler in his own right, Henderson hasn’t yet hopped on the Jon Jones bandwagon, and he expects Evans to be the more dominant wrestler when the two meet inside the Octagon at UFC 145.
“Rashad got a lot of criticism for his last performance [against Phil Davis] but I thought he fought really well, really solid,” Henderson said in an interview with ESPN. “Jon Jones is tough but Rashad could definitely come out winning. … He will definitely put Jones on his back if he fights like he did against Phil Davis. Rashad’s the better wrestler; it’s just that Jones is awkward. But Jones wouldn’t be able to stop him taking him down for that long.”
Given all of Rashad’s accomplishments inside the Octagon, I certainly understand where Henderson is coming from. Rashad is one of the toughest wrestlers in the UFC, and he has already proved he can compete at the highest level.
A contestant on the second season of the “Ultimate Fighter,” Rashad – who was strictly a wrestler at the time – consistently defied the odds, fighting his way to the finale. He defeated Brad Imes to win the six-figure contract with the UFC, but the New York native was far from done.
Evans went on a pretty impressive streak afterwards, defeating well respected fighters like Michael Bisping and Chuck Liddell on his way to the light-heavyweight title. He eventually took the belt from Forrest Griffin at UFC 92, but he ran into problems in his next fight, losing to the then undefeated Lyoto Machida.
When you consider the fact that Evans has only lost once in his MMA career, it easy to understand why Henderson refuses to count him out. I actually expect Jones to successfully defend his belt at UFC 145, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be his toughest fight so far.