You read their articles, you watch and listen to their interviews, but often the personal opinions of the mixed martial arts (MMA) media get brushed over.
These media members have inside knowledge of the sport and a unique perspective of the fighters they have the privilege of interacting with. Before you place that bet in Vegas or with your friends, be sure to check out what those most educated about the sport have to say about the upcoming event.
UFC 161: "Evans vs. Henderson" is just hours away and with the hype reaching a peak, fans are wondering how the event headliner is going to go down.
Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson are set to collide in the main event from the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, with a prime spot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight pecking order on the line.
With another pay-per-view (PPV) main event just around the corner, read as 10 of the sport's writers and reporters break down and predict the UFC 161 light heavyweight main event of Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson.
Mike Bohn (MMA Mania): Rashad Evans has been known to play it safe at times when there is a lot on the line, and against Dan Henderson there may be more pressure on his shoulders than ever before. If "Suga" defeats Henderson, expect it to be in a very conservative fashion. While that's not something a fight fan wants to hear, it's the reality of the situation. If Henderson can't connect with one of his thunderous punches over the course of 15 minutes, Evans is going to be the one who scores more points with takedowns and ground-and-pound en route to a decision victory. Hopefully this one ends in a highlight reel finish and the Winnipeg fans will be sent home happy after having their first live event weakened by injuries, but unfortunately there's a good chance this match up could result in a bust. Rashad Evans via unanimous decision.
Dave Doyle (MMA Fighting/Yahoo! Sports): In some ways, this fight comes off as the moveable force being the resistable object. Was Dan Henderson's loss to Lyoto Machida simply a function of Machida's ability to be Machida-like? Or was it a sign that a 42-year old coming off a bad knee injury has his days in the cage numbered? Is Rashad Evans living proof that the Blackzilians is where good careers go to die? We actually could end up finding out both are true, but when push comes to shove, my guess is Henderson steps it up and keeps himself relevant. Henderson via TKO.
Chuck Mindenhall (ESPN): This one feels like the old crap shoot, a fight that hinges on so many variables that a lay person (like me) comes up empty on his hunches. However, if Rashad Evans really believes he was a mere husk of himself in there against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and it's not just lip-service that he wants to treat Henderson as his springboard back, the lean goes to Evans based on clever squinting. Ultimately, though, I think Henderson shows up in his usual Henderson form, eager himself to do away wit the Machida mess, and sends Evans into an existential crisis (read: contemplating a move to the broadcast booth permanently). Here says Henderson, via decision.
Shaun Al-Shatti (MMA Fighting): A year ago this would've been such a massive fight, yet now UFC President Dana White is stating that the loser is out of the title picture for good. And the thing is, he's perfectly justified in doing so. MMA is weird sometimes, folks. This match-up is pretty much a toss-up; both guys have solid wrestling and KO power, but both looked lethargic their last time out. Evans claims to have rediscovered his old fire, though that kind of statement has become one of the oldest clichés in the book. Between the two, Henderson is the only one with a conceivable road to the title, and since I'd still like to see that fight, I'll go ahead and say the thunder in his right hand prevails. Henderson via late-round TKO.
Dave Deibert (Postmedia News): We'll see if Rashad Evans' loss in February to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was simply a terrible night for him or if it was a sign of things to come. Even more than the final result, I'm anxious to see if Evans still wants to be in there, grinding it out with one of the toughest, most durable fighters in the sport. If Evans does, it's his fight to lose. When Evans is right - and when he is, I still think he's one of the two- or three-best light heavyweights in the sport - his speed and movement will keep him away from Henderson's one-punch power for 15 minutes. Evans via unanimous decision.
Ian Bain (MMA Opinion): Dan Henderson vs Rashad Evans is an intriguing fight as both guys desperately need a win. Evans' performance against Nogueira was pitiful and Henderson and Machida was not exciting at all. That is why I think both guys will come out swinging for the fences. Rashad's speed vs Henderson's power on the feet is where it will be decided I think. Since we know Dan's chin is famous for taking big shots, I can't pick against him. Henderson by TKO
Jason Moles: (Cage Potato): Testosterone Replacement Therapy boasts many benefits to those who undergo the controversial treatment including increased aggression and speed, muscle gain, and improved recovery time from intense training sessions in the gym or previous injuries suffered in battle. At an age when most men are out buying Harleys or and getting tattoos they'll undoubtedly regret in 10 years, Dan Henderson is still going strong in the world's toughest sport, thanks largely in part to the wizardry of modern medicine. TRT has given "Hendo" the energy and stamina of a 25-year-old in the prime of life in addition to the wisdom gleaned from a career spanning nearly two decades. The rest of his success can be attributed to his heavy right hand, the gloved fist that keeps opponents up at night in the weeks leading up to fight night. Winning three of his last five fights by (T)KO, Henderson will use his Olympic level wrestling to keep things standing - at least long enough to make lock on target and deliver an air strike to end the night. With lethal combination of power and performance enhancing drugs, Henderson will demolish Rashad Evans. Without either, he wouldn't be knocking on the door of title shot in the UFC at UFC 161.
Karim Zidan (The Flying Knee): UFC 161 goes down Saturday night and while the card may not be as appealing with the loss of an interim title bout as well as Shogun Rua, the main event between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson could certainly make up for the losses. It appears that many consider this fight a coin flip due to the wide vast arsenal that both competitors hold, I personally believe that Evans holds a significant advantage over Henderson in terms of speed, stamina and accuracy and that will prove to be the deciding factor over an entire fight. While I do not doubt Hendo's ability to finish Rashad, I do believe that if Evans is driven to perform in this bout, his well rounded skill set will ultimately earn him the decision victory. Evans via unanimous decision
Adam Martin (Sportsnet): The main event of UFC 161 is a very close fight on paper and a fight I could really see going either way but I believe that if Rashad Evans is motivated, this is his fight to lose. Unless Evans doesn't come out and lay a stinker like he did against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his last fight or gets knocked out by one of Dan Henderson's trademark 'H-Bomb' punches, he should be able to get the takedowns and control Henderson the ground en route to a three-round judges' decision victory.
Jeremy Brand (MMA Sucka): While the H-bomb is always a devastating factor in every single one of Henderson's fights, Evans has the speed to avoid it and ultimately dictate where this fight will take place. The two fighters both have wrestling pedigrees so that could counter each other out. I believe the speed and endurance will be the beginning of the end for Henderson. Evans will be able to take it in to the later rounds and where Hendo out. I'm going with Rashad Evans unanimous decision.
Media picking Rashad Evans: Five
Media picking Dan Henderson: Five
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