UFC Fight Night 32: What We Learned from Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson II

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterNovember 9, 2013

May 18, 2013; Jaragua do Sul, BRAZIL; Vitor Belfort (red shorts) celebrates after defeating  Luke Rockhold (not pictured) during UFC on FX 8 at ARena Jaragua. Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports
Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

There is always one major storyline leading into any Vitor Belfort fight: testosterone-replacement therapy. 

It is a hotly debated subject by fans and media looking for any way to explain Belfort's career resurgence at age 36. Heading into Fight Night 32, the discussion surrounding TRT did not subside, but was not discussed as much as it usually is because his opponent, Dan Henderson, also receives the treatment. 

Yes, this main event was a historic first. Never before have two fighters with dangerously, life-threateningly low testosterone faced off in a main event. It's a medical miracle, really. 

The last time Henderson and Belfort squared off, it was October 21, 2006. Henderson won a unanimous decision that night, and Belfort tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in a post-fight drug test. It was the start of the controversy that has surrounded Belfort throughout his career.

June 15, 2013; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; light heavyweight  Dan Henderson during the fight against Rashad Evans (not pictured) during UFC 161 at the MTS Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Seven years later, they faced off again, this time in Brazil. Henderson is now 43 years old and seemingly on the downward slope of his career, while Belfort might just be better than he's ever been.

Were the results any different this time around? The short answer is yes. 

Belfort is something else. Whether it's fueled by testosterone or by his decision to join the Blackzilians camp and train with some of the best fighters in the world, Belfort is a machine. 

Zero strikes were thrown over a minute into the first round. Scants seconds later, it was over, courtesy of a Belfort mauling that began when Henderson lunged in to throw some strikes of his own.

Belfort dropped Henderson with a short uppercut and then swarmed. Henderson was able to get back to his feet, but Belfort immediately put him back on the ground with a violent head kick. 

This is important: Belfort is not the first man to finish Henderson. That honor goes to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who submitted Henderson way back at PRIDE 24. That was followed by his little brother submitting Henderson and then Anderson Silva doing the same thing in the UFC. So despite what the UFC would have you believe, this was not the first time Henderson has been finished in a fight.

It was, however, the first time he's ever been knocked out. Henderson's typically reliable granite chin failed him under blistering pressure from the man who may just be the hottest fighter in the world right now.

Though this bout came in the light heavyweight division, Belfort is the unquestioned No. 1 contender at middleweight. He deserves to face the winner of December's UFC 168 bout between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva.

Personally, I think that will be Silva, meaning we would have to go through the rigmarole of Silva not wanting to face his fellow countryman and somebody he's already beaten. 

Well, that's too bad. Belfort just put the cherry atop one of the greatest career turnarounds in the history of the sport.