On November 9th, at UFC Fight Night 32 “Belfort vs. Henderson” in the Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil, number 2 ranked middleweight Vitor “the Phenom” Belfort will slug it out with number 6 ranked light-heavyweight Dan “Hendo” Henderson in a light-heavyweight rematch seven years in the making The pair had their first fight on October 21st, 2006 at Pride 32. The fight was competitive, with Dan Henderson fighting for takedowns to control from top. He dropped heavy shots on Belfort from top position, but Belfort maintained his composure throughout the fight and even managed to sweep the Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler in the third round. When the dust settled, Henderson walked away the victor unanimous decision win.
Vitor “the Phenom” Belfort: 23 Wins (16 KO’s and 3 Submissions) 10 Losses
Belfort has gone a stellar 9-2 since his loss to Henderson, with 7 of those wins coming by way of knockout. That number may seem inflated due to the competition that the Phenom faced in Affliction and Cage Rage, but he managed to defeat and knockout the likes of Rich Franklin, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold in his return to the UFC. What is even more impressive is that since his loss to Henderson in 2006, Belfort has only lost to two men: Anderson Silva (UFC 126) and Jon Jones (UFC 152). His biggest asset in this fight is going to be his striking. He was predominantly a boxer for much of his career, using a mix of speed and power to overwhelm his opponents. In his fight against Bisping, Belfort managed to throw a beautiful head kick and followed it up with some savage follow-up punches. He managed to top that win with his spinning heel kick knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8.
Dan “Hendo” Henderson: 29 Wins (13 KO’s and 2 Submissions) 10 Losses
Henderson has looked equally impressive since his fight with Belfort racking up a record of 8-5 scoring wins over Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, Rich Franklin, and Mauricio Rua just to name a few. While 5 losses may seem mediocre to some, those losses came to likes of MMA royalty in Anderson Silva, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Jake Shields and Rashad Evans. Hendo is on a 2-fight losing streak, both coming by way of split decision to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. The 43-year old gave both fighters a good fight so age will not be a factor in this fight. Henderson’s biggest asset in this fight is that “H-Bomb”. What Henderson lacks in speed, he makes up for with power and history has proven that if Henderson can time that shot correctly, he can end anybody’s night as proven by that spectacular knockout of Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce.
I expect both fighters to really engage on the feet for the first round. Belfort is going to want to avoid being smothered again and is really going to come out aggressive. This wont be a problem for Henderson because he never seems to shy away from a dogfight. If Henderson doesn’t land that “H-bomb” in the first round, I expect him to really force the takedown and try to control Belfort from the top. Belfort is incredibly dangerous with his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and seems comfortable fighting off of his back. He even managed to threaten light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones with an armbar in their fight at UFC 152. Belfort will outpoint Henderson on the feet and threaten with constant submissions off of his back if he gets taken down.
My Prediction: Vitor Belfort via Unanimous Decision