Henderson won a decision over Belfort during their days fighting for Pride Fighting Championships, while Belfort knocked Henderson out in their previous UFC fight, ensuring Saturday night’s victor would be granted bragging rights when he is one day sitting around the campfire with his grandchildren.
Henderson entered the arena to a quiet respect from the Brazilian crowd, but that same crowd exploded with enthusiasm when home country hero Belfort made his way to the cage.
The fight started slowly, each man showing measured respect for the other’s power, hesitant to engage.
But while Belfort may not have jumped into action when the bell sounded, he seemed to have reserved the energy from the crowd until just the right moment, and when he did act, it was with full authority.
Nothing happened for the first couple of minutes, but then Belfort launched a head kick that sent Henderson up against the fence. He followed with a couple of left hands and suddenly Henderson was on the canvas.
Relentless in his pursuit, Belfort dropped on top of Henderson, unloading a couple more punches, one of which caught Henderson flush, forcing referee Mario Yamasaki to step in and stop the fight.
The victory added to Belfort’s record of most knockouts in UFC history, and certainly handed him bragging rights in the trilogy with Henderson, but will it be enough to put him back on the path that he wants to be on, the path to the UFC middleweight championship?