Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson went the distance during UFC 161 Saturday night, but the 33-year-old former light heavyweight champion edged out 42-year-old Hendo by split decision after three rounds.
Two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Evans, who moves to 18-3-1, and one judge scored the bout 29-28 for Henderson, who drops to 29-10.
Hendo, who has been in and out of the UFC for 15 years, said the loss was his own fault, and that he didn’t do enough to fend off “Sugar” Rashad.
“Nobody to blame but myself. That third round, I slowed down. I should have got more active,” he said. “He didn’t hurt me at all. I thought I hurt him bad in the first and second. I thought I had those rounds.”
Henderson is coming off of another split decision loss to Lyoto “the Dragon” Machida at UFC 157 back in February. Prior to that match, he hadn’t fought in the UFC since November 2011, when he defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua by unanimous decision at UFC 139, claiming not only Fight of the Night honors, but Fight of the Year as well.
Hendo said the most recent loss was easier to accept than his defeat at the hands of Machida.
“This one I can swallow a little easier than the last one,” Henderson said. “Rashad is a tough guy. He stood and fought me and he did a great job. I can’t say that about the last guy I fought.”
Last year, Henderson was involved in one of the lowest points in UFC history when he suffered a partcial MCL tear that led to UFC 151 being canceled — the only time the promotion has ever had to call off an event. Henderson was set to fight light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones, who could have salvaged the event by accepting a fight with Chael Sonnen. Jones, who is the youngest champion in UFC history at 25 years old, was told by his trainer that it would be the biggest mistake of his career to accept the fight of such short notice.
President Dana White said he was disgusted that Jones wouldn’t take the fight.
“We’ve never, ever had a fighter refuse to fight someone. As much as he’s won and with all the things he’s accomplished in a short amount of time, he’s been a champion that hasn’t been very popular,” White said. “I don’t think this is going to do wonders for his popularity.”
Jones and Sonnen did, eventually, face off at UFC 159, with the young champion retaining his title with a first-round knockout.
You can find a list of UFC 161 winners and losers below.
Heavyweight – Stipe Miocic defeats Roy Nelson by unanimous decision after three rounds.
Light heavyweight – Ryan Jimmo beats Igor Pokrajac by unanimous decision after three rounds.
Women’s bantamweight – Alexis Davis defeats Rosi Sexton by unanimous decision after three rounds.
Heavyweight – Shawn Jordan beats Pat Barry by TKO at 0:59 in the first round. (Knockout of the Night)
Welterweight – Jake Shields beats Tyron Woodley by split decision after three rounds.
Lightweight – James Krause submits Sam Stout by guillotine choke at 4:47 in the third round. (Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night)
Welterweight – Sean Pierson scores a majority decision over Kenny Robertson after three rounds.
Bantamweight – Roland Delorme defeats Edwin Figueroa by unanimous decision after three rounds.