Niagara Falls native Rashad Evans kept his UFC career going in the right direction Saturday night with a very tight decision victory over veteran Dan Henderson.

Henderson seemed to have the edge after two rounds, but in what proved to be a deciding third round, Rashad Evans (18-3-1 MMA, 13-3-1 UFC) took the striking edge and pulled out the split decision.

The victory was almost a surprise to Evans “After getting dropped in the first round, I knew I won the second, but I needed to come out strong in the third,” said Evans, who entered the fight while coming off the first back-to-back losses of his career.

Despite Rashad Evans‘ win, Henderson landed the first substantial blow of the fight. After an initial feeling-out process and the occasional firefight, Henderson caught his opponent with a stiff jab just as Evans was moving in. Evans hit the deck and ate some follow-up punches, but he quickly returned to his feet and shook off the cobwebs before the round ended.

Evans returned the favor in the second round with a powerful right hand, but Henderson answered with a solid knee that forced both fighters to reset. Evans, clearly the quicker fighter, remained the aggressor in the round, but with solid takedown defense and quick footwork, Henderson proved game for a late-round exchange of punches and elbows.

As a close contest entered the final frame, Rashad Evans knew he needed the final round. He quickly buckled Henderson with a quick flurry of blows but wisely reset once the veteran regained his wits.

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