Another fight, another head-kick knockout from Vitor Belfort.
After pulling the trick against Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping,
he scored another notable one for his considerable highlight reel,
becoming the first man ever to finish Dan Henderson on strikes.
The finish took just 77 seconds, sending the crowd of 10,565 in
Goiania, Brazil into hysterics. The crowd serenaded the Brazilian
Belfort with the Portuguese chant of “The champ is
back” as he reveled in their adulation.
Afterward, UFC president Dana White told FOX Sports that
Belfort, who fought Henderson at light heavyweight Saturday night,
is likely to next fight for the UFC middleweight championship,
although he acknowledged there are other possibilities with the
division boasting talents including champ Chris Weidman, all-time
great Anderson Silva, and new arrival Lyoto Machida, who is moving
down from light heavyweight.
“Holy f—ing s—,” White said just moments after
the KO. “I kept looking at Lorenzo going ‘Wow!’
There are big things coming for Vitor Belfort for sure.”
“Silva vs. Weidman is going to be huge, and whoever wins
is going to fight Belfort unless something crazy happens or someone
gets hurt,” he continued.
After a short feeling-out process in the UFC Fight Night:
Belfort vs. Henderson main event, the American Henderson came
forward with three overhand rights which all missed the target. As
he uncorked the last one, Belfort countered with a precisely timed
left uppercut that appeared to lift Henderson off his feet before
dropping him to his back.
That alone was a stunning visual, but what followed was even
Belfort pounced, looking for the finish on the ground. Henderson
tried to slow him by throwing up an armbar attempt but Belfort
continued the assault until Henderson managed to scramble to his
As Henderson attempted to cover up, Belfort unleashed a left
high kick that found its mark, knocking Henderson out for the first
time in his long and great career. It is the first time in UFC
history a fighter has had three straight head kick knockouts, and
netted Belfort another $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus, his
third straight award.
“It’s a great feeling,” Belfort said.
“The times that we train, the things that we do, the
sacrifices. You guys don’t imagine the things we go through,
especially me, 36 years old. I’m a new man. I reinvented
myself with dedication. It’s a lot of dedication to do
something like that. I did something nobody ever did. Of course, my
coaches and my team are very happy with the performance. I’m
very thankful with my age, to have the capabilities of doing it
with this intensity.”
Belfort, who’s won five of his last six, is now 24-10.
An uncertain future awaits Henderson, who has lost three
straight fights for the first time in his career and just completed
the last bout on his current UFC contract. The veteran is
Henderson went to the hospital for precautionary reasons after
the fight, although he walked out of the arena on his own power.
Before he left, he took the opportunity to speak with White
backstage and told him he would like to remain with the company and
continue competing. At 43 years old and with a losing streak, he is
in a tough negotiating position, something he noted earlier this
week when the prospect of an extension was brought up.
“He still wants to fight here,” White told FOX
Sports. “We’ll see what’s up. We have to sit down
and talk. I like Dan. We’ll have to see where he’s at
and we’re at.”
Meanwhile, at 36, Belfort is rejuvenated, and looking at a
possible title fight with either Weidman or Silva. If it’s
the latter, White said the UFC would consider hosting it at a
soccer stadium in Brazil.
“First of all, as a fighter we can’t have
preferences. We have to fight whoever is the champ. That’s my
purpose,” Belfort said. “This is something I was able
to get through a lot of hard work from my team and myself. Now I
have to wait for the champion and stick to my diet.”