Henderson promises Belfort finish

Dan Henderson
Dan Henderson falls in the latest UFC rankings update from Nov. 11th.
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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.


It was October 2006 when Pride Fighting Championships was making a push into the United States market after building their brand in Japan for so many years. While the rules had to be different in America (no knees to the head of a grounded opponent, no soccer kicks, etc), Pride still wanted to establish a base and what better way to do that than with a recognizable name from the early UFC era against an iconic wrestler turned fighter from the U.S.

So on that date, Vitor Belfort met Dan Henderson in a battle of two rising stars in the light heavyweight division. What resulted was a dominant performance from Henderson over the course of three rounds as Belfort had no answer for the wrestling, clinch game or power from his opponent.

Now seven years later, Henderson and Belfort meet again in the rematch as the headliner from this weekend's UFC Fight Night card in Brazil. Some might say that seven years is a long time between fights, almost to the point where the first one doesn't even matter now, but Henderson isn't so fast to dismiss what he learned about Belfort back then.

"I thought he was tough. I guess I expected a little bit more out of him when we got in the clinch. He just half way pulled guard a couple of times, so he did that a little bit against Jon Jones as well. That's kind of his style. He's still dangerous on his back, he's good in jiu-jitsu so it's something I've still got to be aware of. I think the biggest danger he possesses is his striking and his quickness, so that's what I need to be aware of," Henderson told FOX Sports.

"I had recently looked at that fight just because I'm fighting him and he moves his feet a lot better, he's more patient, he's definitely improved. As far as his striking goes he's improved. But again his tendencies are still there. He's added some kicks now. He's definitely improved and added to his game."

One other major occurrence that happened following the fight was Belfort's drug test returned positive for anabolic steroids. The result was Belfort being suspended for nine months and he was fined from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Recently, Belfort has started to undergo testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to the chagrin of many opponents of the controversial hormone replacement treatment that's become a popular subject in the MMA world. Steroid abuse has been a known cause of low testosterone in men, and Belfort's use of synthetic testosterone has raised more than a few red flags given his past conviction for using performance enhancing drugs.

Henderson has also been on TRT for a number of years, but his outspoken nature about using the treatment has left him virtually untouched in the media because he's never shied away from talking about the subject. He understands why Belfort is under such scrutiny for his use of TRT given his past run in with a positive drug test.

Still, Henderson really doesn't care much what Belfort does or doesn't do in his free time. Steroids, testosterone or super serum — Henderson knows he will beat Belfort no matter what.

"I've been doing that a long time as well, but at the same time I've never abused anything and never tested positive for anything. One of the reasons he wouldn't be able to do TRT here is because he tested positive for steroids in the past, which is one of the reasons you'd need TRT if you had taken steroids. I don't care what he's taking, I'm still going to go out there and beat him up," Henderson said.

Seven years may have past, and Henderson may be a little longer in the tooth now than he was then. Belfort may be on a new drug treatment that's legally prescribed now as opposed to the last time they met, but ultimately Henderson says the outcome will be the same.

Well, almost the same.

"I'm obviously a little more dangerous on my feet than his last two or three opponents as far as power goes. It's something he's going to be aware of. Also when I get in the clinch with him I'll take him down and put him on his back. He's going to have to be very tactical I think and I still be aware of the dangers I possess," Henderson said.

"I don't see the fight being any different from the last time other than I think I'm going to finish him this time."

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