UFC 161: "Evans vs. Henderson" goes down this Saturday night (June 15, 2013) from the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and for the second time in a 21-day span, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hosts a pay-per-view (PPV) event for the world to see.
A collision between light heavyweight contenders serves as the main event of the evening as former world champions Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson both look to rebound from underwhelming showing in their last fight and prove they still have what it takes to be a threaten 205-pound champion Jon Jones.
After a number of changes to the card, the co-headliner will now see The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10 winner Roy Nelson get back in the Octagon for the second time in two months against the talented Stipe Miocic.
With the two headlining bouts garnering the most attention of any on card from both fans and media, it's time to break down what --besides a paycheck-- a victory on Saturday means for the four athletes carrying the UFC 161 fight card.
While Evans faces a tremendous amount of pressure by risking a three-fight losing streak against Henderson, "Suga" has the type of job security and standing with the UFC where he doesn't have to worry about being released from the organization with another loss.
The 33-year-old has repeatedly stated going into UFC 161 that he is determined to get his "swagger back" and earn a second chance to fight 205-pound titleholder Jon Jones, but that's a very lofty goal for someone on a two-fight skid and potentially facing a third defeat in a row.
However, as we've seen time and time again, it only takes one memorable performance to get right back near the top of the pecking order. And when Evans is on his game, he is certainly capable of producing that kind of effort.
Defeating a fighter of Henderson's caliber would be a tremendous addition to the already epic resume Evans has put together throughout his career and help him get back in the mix of top contenders after a performance in his last fight that led many to believe his best days are behind him.
At 42 years of age, Henderson could become the second oldest fighter in history to record to win inside the Octagon behind his good friend and former training partner Randy Couture.
Around this point last year, "Hendo" was preparing for a title shot against Jon Jones at UFC 151 in a fight that never came to fruition due to the knee injury that infamously led to the first-ever cancellation of a UFC event.
Fast forward to now and Henderson is coming off his first loss in three years in an underwhelming fight against Lyoto Machida and is simply competing to stay relevant as a contender at 205-pounds.
With his age and amount of experience, Henderson could show up looking "old" in any fight, but he shouldn't be counted out because a win over Evans would be a microcosm of his Hall of Fame worthy career to this point.
While no one really knows the implications for the winner of the UFC 161 headliner, a win for Henderson keeps him around the top of the light heavyweight division and arguably just one more good win away from earning a title fight with Jones for a second time.
It's a well-known fact by now that UFC 161 marks the final fight on Nelson's current UFC deal. While a win over Stipe Miocic doesn't do much for him in terms of rankings or the progression of his career, a victory over his American foe would be his fourth in a row and, assuming he wants to stick around with the world's premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, would provide him with a strong amount of negotiating power with the UFC for his next contract.
Miocic failed to crack the top-10 in his last UFC fight in Sept. 2012 when he lost to Stefan Struve, and now he has a second chance to join the elite of the weight class by taking out Nelson. The 30-year-old has a tremendous amount of potential and if he can pull it together and defeat Nelson is would signify the biggest victory of his young career.
What do you think a win means on Saturday for these four men? Let us know in the comments section below!
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