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UFC 192 fight card primer: Ryan Bader vs. Rashad Evans

Bloody Elbow presents a preview of UFC 192: Cormier vs. Gustafsson in our fight card primer series. Here we look at the co-main event between Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Top 10 light heavyweight contenders Ryan Bader (19-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) and Rashad Evans (19-3-1 MMA, 14-3-1 UFC) weren't supposed to be the co-headlining act of UFC 192 in Houston, Texas, but they were promoted to the co-main event when Johny Hendricks versus Tyron Woodley was cancelled hours before yesterday's weigh-ins. The main event is a light heavyweight title fight between defending champion Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson.

It's the first time since UFC 167 (November 2013) that Rashad Evans has been inside the Octagon. He has a tough return matchup ahead of him with Bader on a four-fight winning streak.The UFC 192 main card airs live on PPV from the Toyota Center beginning at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT, with televised preliminary card action kicking off at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on Fox Sports 1.

How do these two stack up?

Bader: 32 years old | 6'2" | 74" reach
Evans: 36 years old | 5'11" | 75" reach

What have these two done recently?

Bader: W - Phil Davis (SD) | W - Ovince Saint Preux (UD) | W - Rafael Cavalcante (UD)
Evans: W - Chael Sonnen (TKO) | W - Dan Henderson (SD) | L - Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (UD)

How did these two get here?

Two years ago, Bader suffered a devastating TKO loss vs. Glover Teixeira just when it looked like he had Teixeira badly hurt. Since then, Bader has been on an absolute tear. The TUF 8 winner destroyed Anthony Perosh in his bounceback fight, then followed that up by shutting down the heavy-handed Rafael Cavalcante. In a five-round affair, the former Arizona State wrestling standout outwrestled Ovince Saint Preux en route to a unanimous decision victory in Maine. His win over Phil Davis was a split decision and anything but entertaining, but it marked one of the most important wins of Bader's career as it meant a continuation of his ascent up the UFC's rankings. Having had his June fight with Daniel Cormier scrapped because Cormier fought Anthony Johnson for the vacant LHW title, Bader will be out to prove that he's earned a title shot after he was spurned for Alexander Gustafsson.

Evans has been sidelined with back-to-back knee surgeries, which has resulted in consecutive fight cancellations against Daniel Cormier and Glover Teixeira, respectively. The TUF 2 winner and former light heavyweight champion was last seen destroying Chael Sonnen in 2013, which was his most impressive showing since dominating Phil Davis in January 2012. He's had his inconsistencies dating back to his title fight loss to Jon Jones, so we'll see if vintage Rashad returns tonight or if the knee injuries severely affect his performance for the worse.

Why should you care?

This is a big fight at the top of the light heavyweight division and an emotional return to the cage for Rashad Evans after such a long layoff. It's definitely worth your attention.