Dan Henderson has experience with Vitor Belfort. He also has experience with TRT. And since he knows a little about both, and since one recently beat the hatches off him only so the other could help his 43-year old body recover, Henderson becomes a qualified party to weigh in on what happens in Belfort’s upcoming title fight with UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, host Ariel Helwani asked Henderson -- who was knocked out for the first time in his career against Belfort in November -- if he thought "The Phenom" would beat Weidman.
"No," he said without hesitation. Asked why he was so sure about that, Henderson threw it all on the table.
"Vitor is very capable of beating anybody in those first few minutes of a fight because he is dangerous and he hits hard," Henderson said. "But, I just -- I don't see it happening, especially if the fight is in the U.S."
Henderson has somewhat quietly been on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) for a few years, though he has been less scrutinized than Belfort of late. The reasons for this vary among fans and media, but the big differentiators seem to be that Belfort looks conspicuously different than he did in 2010, and that he was popped for elevated testosterone back in 2006 at Pride 32. That fight, which happened in the state of Nevada, was against none other than Henderson himself. It didn’t help that Belfort’s usage only became a revelation after he flattened Michael Bisping with a headkick at UFC on FX 7 in January of last year.
In Belfort’s past three fights -- all of them occurring in Brazil -- he has knocked out his opponents violently. Asked if he thought there was anything fishy going on, Henderson wouldn’t quite go that far.
"I don't know, I'm not going to point fingers and say things I have no idea about," he said. "Obviously [Vitor] wouldn’t be able to use TRT here, but I just feel like he’s definitely…his body has changed a little bit in the last couple of years that he hasn’t been fighting here.
"There’s reasons for that. He’s been fighting a long time and we’ve seen his body change a couple of different times. It is what it is. At the same time, I have no idea, he could be doing everything right by the book and the way he should. Which is what he should have done years ago, as well."
The UFC has said that Belfort and Weidman will fight either in May or July, and that its home base of Las Vegas was the most likely destination. Of course, with Belfort’s past in the state of Nevada, getting a therapeutic use exemption for TRT becomes the story within the story. With the recent resignation of Nevada Athletic Commission head Keith Kizer, there’s added mystery as to how this will all shake out.
And even though Henderson likes Weidman to defend his title against Belfort on U.S. soil, he did admit that he hadn’t watched too many of Weidman’s previous fights.
"No, I didn’t see him a whole lot until he fought Anderson Silva the first time," he said. "I’d seen maybe one fight of his before that. I felt that he was really tough and had a good style to beat Anderson. But I said that the first time he fought Anderson. He’s got decent hands, he’s not afraid to bang and he’s a good wrestler that can put Anderson on his back."