Interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao was confirmed as being officially off UFC 161 on Tuesday, where he was to headline in a title defense against Eddie Wineland.
The previous co-main event, pitting light heavyweights Dan Henderson (29-9) against Rashad Evans (22-3-1) has been moved into the main event slot according to an announcement by UFC. Because the change was made after contracts for the bout had been signed, UFC President Dana White confirmed it would remain a three-round fight.
According to the UFC's media rankings panel, Henderson is currently ranked as No. 3 contender behind Lyoto Machida and Alexander Gustafsson. Evans is ranked No. 7.
Barao (30-1, 1 no contest) suffered torn ligaments in his right foot. Over the weekend White had said he believed it was probable he'd have to miss the June 15 show at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the company's debut in what has been a strong pay-per-view market. He was scheduled to defend his title against Eddie Wineland (20-8-1). There is still no word on whether Wineland would remain on the show, or they would attempt to book the fight later in the year. There has also been no timetable announced as to when Barao would be able to defend the title.
Evans had one of the best records of current UFC headliners, before suffering decision losses to Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his last two fights, the latter on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas. The 42-year-old Henderson is a legend of the sport, and is coming off a decision loss to Lyoto Machida on the Feb. 23 show in Anaheim, Calif. Before the loss, Henderson was considered one of the potential top contenders for Jones' title, and was set for a title match on Sept. 1 before a knee injury forced him out of the later-canceled UFC 151 show.
Generally, losing a championship less than a month out would be a major blow to a card. In this case, it's probably not going to make a major difference. While not the advertised main event, Evans vs. Henderson, being two long standing stars, would have likely had more interest than the title match in a main event position.
Another light heavyweight fight, pitting former champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (21-7) against Nogueira (21-5), ranked No. 7 and No. 5 respectively, moves to the co-feature spot.
Renan Barao officially off UFC 161, UFC announces Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson as main event
The UFC announced Tuesday due to a right foot injury, Renan Barao, scheduled to headline the June 15 UFC debut in Winnipeg, had to pull out of the show. The first-ever meeting of longtime top light heavyweights Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson has been moved to the main event slot.