When the UFC announced Dan Henderson’s return to the Octagon would come against former divisional champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua it’s likely a few of Rashad Evans’ supporters found themselves concerned about their favorite fighter’s status as the light heavyweight division’s top contender.
However, despite Henderson being Strikeforce’s 205-pound champion and Rua only a single fight removed from holding the UFC’s belt, Dana White put worried fans’ fears to rest at a recent press conference relating to UFC 135 where he made it clear Evans was still next in line no matter what happens in that particular pairing.
Evans has personal history with both men competing this weekend for the title, Jon Jones and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and was poised to fight for the strap before an injury forced him on the sidelines only to watch then-teammate Jones grab hold of the gold in March at UFC 128. The two were expected to face off last month and settle their differences until Jones withdrew due to a hand issue. Evans went on to soundly beat his replacement, Tito Ortiz, and has been waiting ever since.
That being said, according to the UFC President, Henderson’s headlining tilt with Rua at UFC 139 will still serve to determine who is next in line for the winner of Evans’ eventual bout against Jones/Jackson.
“Sugar” ‘Shad is 16-1-1 in his career with ten victories in the Octagon since taking home the Ultimate Fighter Season 2 title in late 2005. Among the instances of in-ring success are past wins over Stephan Bonnar, Michael Bisping, Thiago Silva, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, and “Rampage” Jackson.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC
MMATraining Take: I’m glad White killed any/all speculation about how the UFC is handling Henderson’s signing. Though “Hendo” is one of MMA’s legends for a reason, his Strikeforce title is the product of beating guys who wouldn’t be “Top 5” light heavyweights in the UFC (maybe not even “Top 10”). And, while taking out Fedor Emelianenko was an impressive feat to say the least, the win doesn’t mean what it used to. Meanwhile, Evans had already been promised a title-shot and is a money-making match-up regardless of whether he fights Jones or Jackson based on the issues he has with both men.