Vitor Belfort got his revenge against Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 32 and in the process nailed down a middleweight title shot. “The Phenom” became the first man ever to stop Henderson via strikes as he recorded an electrifying knockout just 77 seconds into the fight. “Hendo” had defeated Belfort back at Pride 32 in 2006, but it wasn’t meant to be for the 43-year old veteran in Brazil.
Belfort was willing to move up to 205 pounds for the fight after a pair of terrific performances at middleweight in the hopes of securing a title shot against the winner of the middleweight title rematch at UFC 168 between champion Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva. The move paid off for the 36-year-old as he delivered his third consecutive sensational performance.
After a feeling-out process in the first minute, Belfort landed a devastating left uppercut to Henderson’s jaw that badly hurt the veteran. Belfort followed up with a series of punches and when Henderson managed to get to his feet, he was pole-axed by a brutal leg kick to the head.
Belfort has now finished Henderson, Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold in highlight reel fashion. He’s looking as good now as he ever has. Belfort’s offensive game has been taken to a new level with the added dimension of his kicking game to go with his already precise and powerful punches. It was his 17th career knockout.
Unfortunately for Henderson, it’s looking more and more as though father time has finally caught up with him. It was the final fight of his UFC contract and his bargaining power has been reduced dramatically by a third straight loss. This latest defeat comes on the heels of previous decision losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans.
Henderson is an MMA legend and if wants to continue his career, that is his prerogative. Whether it will be in the UFC though remains to be seen.
As for Belfort, it’s been a late-career renaissance and after failed title efforts against Silva and Jon Jones, he is going to get another opportunity to fight for gold. He’s certainly deserving of it.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports