Now that Dan Henderson knows he will likely get the winner of the highly-anticipated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title fight between current Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and Rashad Evans, he can start breaking down each potential opponent.
One of the most decorated wrestlers in mixed martial arts (MMA), Henderson -- a former Olympic-level wrestler --knows a good mat man pedigree when he sees it.
And that is exactly what he sees in "Suga," who was a NCAA Division I wrestler at Michigan State University. Evans' skills were on full display in his last outing against former NCAA Division I national champion, Phil Davis, at UFC on Fox 2 this past January.
Evans outclassed "Mr. Wondeful" in all facets of the game, not just wrestling, en route to a unanimous decision victory, securing his title shot against "Bones" in the UFC 145 main event later month (April 21, 2012). The young champion, Jones, has yet to be taken down inside the Octagon, but "Hendo" believes all that can change in Atlanta , Ga., predicting that the 205-pound kingpin won't be able to fend off the relentless wrestling attack of Evans.
Not only that, the multi-division champion also feels that Evans has what it takes to come out victorious, despite Jones being the heavy favorite from fans and odds makers alike.
Make the jump to see what Henderson told ESPN.com about the upcoming title fight and the contrast in styles that he would have to deal with when it's his turn to vie for the title:
"Don't count out Rashad Evans. Everybody's assuming it will be Jones, but Rashad is a good fighter too. Rashad got a lot of criticism for his last performance [against Phil Davis], but I thought he fought really well, really solid. 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."
"Dangerous Dan" also gave his take on what he can expect to see form either competitor when he gets his chance to compete for the 205-pound strap:
"They have two different styles, two different fights. Rashad is good on his feet, good with his striking, and he would definitely try to put me on my back more than Jon Jones would. Jones is longer, kicks a little bit more, stays on the outside and is awkward, and that is something I would have to deal with."
Henderson will likely be the most eager observer come fight night, as he will definitely be doing some homework in the form of scouting his next opponent for later this year.
Will Evans be the first man to ever put the "awkward" champion on his back? Or will "Bones" utilize his length and keep his former training partner at bay, preventing any chance of a possible takedown?
Let's remember: Jones doesn't have the collegiate-level wrestling credentials like those of his counterpart, but he isn't exactly a slouch in the field, winning a JUCO wrestling championship at Iowa Central Community College.