Dan Henderson has never been the kind of fighter to go knock on doors and demand a particular opponent. The 45-year-old MMA legend is cut from the cloth of the old school, which mostly consisted of brawlers with toothless grins and the fortitude to fight whoever the promotion put in front of them.
But in every career, there eventually comes a time when doors have to be knocked on and opponents need to be demanded. Henderson’s titanium chin had never been cracked before his second meeting with Vitor Belfort two years ago. A calcified shin to the skull ended a 16-year streak of never being knocked out.
Belfort, who had lost a decision to Henderson in October 2006, repaid the favor with a highlight reel first-round knockout. Though Henderson’s aged chin had certainly shown mileage, he had never been put down the way that he was against Belfort. It was a mind-numbing and career-altering loss.
Henderson was no longer able to hide from persistent questions regarding his MMA future. The huge elephant in the room that was never mentioned suddenly became worth mentioning. Media and fans were ready to close the book on Henderson’s illustrious career and toss him into a retirement home.
And it was all because of Vitor Belfort.
During an interview with Fox Sports’ Damon Martin, Henderson admitted that he put in a personal request to fight Belfort:
“Actually, and I never do, but this is a fight I had asked for. I told Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta] it’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to fight in the States. The whole USADA [United States Anti-Doping Agency] was just starting and I wasn’t quite sure about it and I wanted to fight him in the States. But they gave me the fight and said it had to be in Brazil so here we go.”
The Ginásio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo will be the backdrop for the long-awaited rubber match.
Both Henderson and Belfort were on-hand at the official UFC Fight Night 77 weigh-ins on Friday to clear the final hurdle for the event. Feeling the home crowd love, Belfort stepped onto the scale at 185 pounds, while Henderson weighed in at 186 pounds.
Belfort is ready to grant Henderson his wish on Saturday night, although the ending might be different than the one Henderson has in mind.
“Confidence is not arrogance. I am very confident in myself and how the fight will go,” Belfort recently told UFC.com. “I am confident I will get the victory against him again. I’m very excited to fight a guy like Dan and can’t wait to get in there. The time is almost here. Let’s do it.”
The full results from Friday’s weigh-ins are listed below.
Main Card (Fox Sports 1 at 10 p.m. ET)
Vitor Belfort (185) vs. Dan Henderson (186)
Glover Teixeira (206) vs. Patrick Cummins (206)
Thomas Almeida (135) vs. Anthony Birchak (136)
Piotr Hallmann (155) vs. Alex Oliveira (156)
Rashid Magomedov (155) vs. Gilbert Burns (156)
Corey Anderson (205) vs. Fabio Maldonado (205)
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET)
Gleison Tibau (155) vs. Abel Trujillo (156)
Yan Cabral (156) vs. Johnny Case (156)
Clay Guida (146) vs. Thiago Tavares (146)
Chas Skelly (146) vs. Kevin Souza (146)
Undercard (UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. ET)
Viscardi Andrade (170) vs. Gasan Umalatov (170)
Pedro Munhoz (135) vs. Jimmie Rivera (136)
Matheus Nicolau (135) vs. Bruno Korea (134)