There aren’t many UFC pay-per-view cards that feature a main event with two fighters coming off a loss, but there aren’t a lot of fighters with resumes like Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans.
Henderson, a 42-year-old two-time Olympic wrestler and former Pride champion, will take on ex-UFC light heavyweight champ Evans in the main event of UFC 161 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on Saturday.
The fight became the main event after interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao had to pull out of his fight against Eddie Wineland last month. Henderson and Evans welcome the spotlight, but are more concerned with moving on from recent losses.
Evans, 33, did not look like himself in a unanimous decision defeat against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in February.
“You almost have to have a short memory on that kind of thing, because if you dwell on it too long then it can definitely hinder you,” Evans said. “I know how to perform. I know how to fight to the best of my abilities. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.
“I learned from that performance, and I’m ready to move on and put on the fight that I know I can.”
Henderson was more frustrated with Lyoto Machida’s game plan in a February split decision that broke Henderson’s four-fight winning streak.
“I know I didn’t perform to my best and I could have done some things differently, but it’s hard to fight a guy that doesn’t really want to fight you,” Henderson said. “So I didn’t really get too offended or disappointed with myself. I knew I should’ve done a couple things different — maybe been a little more aggressive. But live and learn, you know. I’m feeling good and definitely confident and ready for this fight.”
Henderson still hopes a couple of wins will finally earn him a title shot against Jon Jones. He was supposed to fight Jones last year, but had to pull out because of an injury a week before the bout.
“One day I would like to fight Jon Jones,” Henderson said. “I feel like I have unfinished business there.”
He will need to defeat Evans to maintain any hope of that. The bout headlines a pay-per-view card that includes a heavyweight bout between Stipe Miocic and Las Vegan Roy Nelson. It airs live at 7 p.m.
■ WSOF RETURNS SATURDAY — Las Vegas-based World Series of Fighting hosts its third event Friday at the Hard Rock Hotel, with the main event featuring former UFC welterweights Josh Burkman and one-time title challenger Jon Fitch.
NBC Sports Network (Cable 38) will air the main card starting at 8 p.m.
The organization announced its fourth event will be Aug. 10 in Ontario, Calif. Las Vegan Ray Sefo, the 42-year-old president of WSOF and a highly decorated kickboxer, announced he will fight on the card against an opponent to be determined.
■ LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES — Mixed martial arts sanctioning took a major step forward Wednesday when legislative bodies in Connecticut and Canada voted to legalize the sport.
MMA fights have long been held in Canada, including many UFC events, but a vague reference in the criminal code technically made the sport illegal.
The law was updated to give MMA the same exception as boxing, officially making the sport legal all over Canada.
Connecticut legislators approved an MMA bill, meaning professional MMA is now sanctioned in 49 of 50 states. New York remains the lone holdout.
The sport is governed by state athletic commissions in 47 states. Alaska and Montana don’t have commissions, but have no law against MMA.
The New York legislative session runs through June 20. It is expected a bill would pass if it were brought to vote, but getting the bill to the floor has been a challenge.
■ ’RAMPAGE’ SIGNS — Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has found a new home with a trio of Viacom properties.
His new deal will include MMA fights with Bellator, professional wrestling appearances with TNA and a reality show on Spike TV.
Jackson is expected to make his Bellator debut this year.
He has previously showcased his non-MMA talents with a starring role in the movie version of “The A-Team.”
Jackson grew disenchanted with the UFC, and neither party seemed particularly interested in continuing their relationship after he became a free agent following his third straight loss in January.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.