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
“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
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,”
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
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.”