Legendary fighters Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson will finally have their rematch this weekend in Brazil at UFC Fight Night 32.
Back in 2006, “Hendo” earned a unanimous decision victory over “The Phenom” at Pride 32. Both men come into this 205-pound matchup heading in opposite directions at this stage of their careers. Belfort is making the jump back up in weight after a pair of dynamic middleweight performances against Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold. He ended both of those contests in spectacular fashion with highlight-reel head kick knockouts.
Belfort, who is known for his tremendous speed and power, has been showcasing a more diverse offensive arsenal of late. His only losses during his latest UFC stint have been in title fights against then-middleweight champion Anderson Silva and current light heavyweight title holder Jon Jones. Belfort actually had Jones in danger in the opening round with a tight arm bar before eventually being finished in the fourth round.
Belfort is one of those rare fighters who can flip back and forth between weight classes and compete with the best. He always presents a danger with 16 knockouts in 23 career wins.
If he is able to post another impressive victory against Henderson this weekend, it would be difficult to ignore his requests for a title shot. With the landscape having changed in the 185-pound weight class because of Chris Weidman’s victory over Silva, Belfort could find himself at the top of the line to face the winner of the Weidman-Silva rematch at UFC 168.
Belfort has been seeking a revenge match against Silva after being victimized in their title fight at UFC 126 when he was finished in the first round by a brutal front kick to the face.
Henderson’s toughness is beyond reproach as he’s never been knocked out in his 39 fight career. The 43-year-old is in the final fight of his current contract and wants to re-sign a new multi-fight deal. A third straight loss could jeopardize those hopes and would at least diminish his bargaining power.
Henderson is coming off back-to-back split decision losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. He still possesses tremendous power, but seems to be having more difficulty in pulling the trigger and seems too reliant on landing that H-bomb. He’s gotten away from his strong wrestling skills.
His fight against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 will stand the test of time as being an all-time classic. However, it’s interesting to note that neither fighter has been the same since that brutal contest. Henderson’s body has shown signs of wear and tear as an injury forced him out of a scheduled light-heavyweight title shot against Jones at UFC 151, and there have been those less-than-impressive efforts against Machida and Evans since then.
Can Henderson turn back the clock one more time, or is Belfort not about to be denied in his quest to get one more shot at the gold? It promises to be an outstanding matchup between two men who have provided plenty of thrills over the years.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports