Originally posted on ProMMANews.com  |  Last updated 6/13/13

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 17: Legendary MMA Superstar and two time Olympic Wrestler Dan Henderson attends the CBS' Strikeforce MMA Fighters Open Media Workout on March 17, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
After another injury shuffle by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 161 on Saturday at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, will be headlined by two former champions, each of them desperate to earn another shot at a belt. Rashad Evans is coming off two losses for the first time in his career and is clearly motivated to erase the lackluster decision performances he put in against champion Jon Jones and underdog Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Dan Henderson hoped to finally get his title shot back by beating Lyoto Machida, but he instead fell prey to “The Dragon’s” elusive counterstriking. Now, we have two former champions, neither a stranger to the main event spotlight and each of them hungry for a win. This is not a bad headliner, all things considered. The ground stats again show a fairly even matchup. Both fighters have slightly above average takedown success rates and about average takedown defense. The key difference is in rate of attempts. Evans attempts takedowns at more than twice the pace of Henderson and has generally worked from top control in his fights. Once on the ground, each fighter only averages one position advance, which does not pose as much of a threat for submissions or finishing on the ground. However, in just the minutes spent on the ground, Evans has been in control for 85 percent of that time, while Henderson has only been control for 45 percent. This is the driver of the favorable ground striking ratio for Evans, which is the biggest difference in the grappling stats. Basically, despite both fighters having solid wrestling credentials, Evans has put his to better use. The current betting line is the closest for a main event in a long time — a trend that is echoed elsewhere on the UFC 161 fight card. Evans comes in as a slight favorite at -125, with the comeback on Henderson at +105. Statistically speaking, this is near pick ’em range, and fight week action could easily push Henderson back to an even line or even to a slight favorite depending on which way the fan winds and UFC promotional materials blow. Evans has several advantages on paper, but the long-heralded H-bomb could render them all moot. Because both fighters have been difficult to finish in their respective losses, we might be looking at a close fight that goes the distance. Can Old Man Henderson rise to the occasion yet again or is he facing a little too much fight in a desperate Evans? Do you think any metric here hints at what will decide this matchup?
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