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Dan Henderson on Vitor Belfort’s TRT: I beat him when he was on steroids

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Dan Henderson wants to prove he still have what it takes to defeat some of the best fighters in the world -- even when they are on steroids or testosterone replacement therapy.

Vitor Belfort tested positive for steroids (4-hydroxytestosterone) when he fought Dan Henderson on a PRIDE card in Las Vegas in 2006, and they are set to meet again on Nov. 9 in Goiania, Brazil, for UFC Fight Night 32.

Both fighters are using TRT for their fights, but "Hendo" doesn’t believe it’s fair since the Brazilian got caught in the past.

"It doesn’t bother me, it is what it is," Henderson told Wednesday. "That’s an issue with the commission. I beat him the first time when he was on steroids, I suppose it won’t make a difference."

Some fans claim that the UFC is hiding "The Phenom" in Brazil so that he can keep using the therapy, and Henderson agrees with that theory.

"He’s a star here too, but I think is primarily because of the TRT issue," he said. "He wouldn’t be able to get that here because he tested positive the first time I fought him. They won’t give him an exemption for that."

Henderson will apply for an exemption (TUE) for his next fight, and he’s confident "there won't be any issues."

"I don’t take that much and I’m always testing myself during camps even when I’m not required because people accuse me," he said. "My levels are always normal."

Among a handful of fighters that use TRT in the UFC, Belfort is the one that hears most of the criticism. And Henderson believes he should.

"It could be because he tested positive in the past," he said. "That’s part of the deal. You test positive in the past so people expect you took steroids for a long time."

To be fair, though, "Hendo" realizes Belfort’s devastating knockout wins over Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold weren’t exclusively because of TRT.

"I don’t think so," he said. "I’ve been using TRT for a long time and it doesn’t mean I haven’t improved. I have to work my ass off in the gym to improve, so I don’t think that’s why he won his last couple fights. He does that because he trains."

Henderson returns to Brazil 16 years after he last fought in the country where he made his MMA debut with stoppage victories over Crezio de Souza and Eric Smith in the same night. Fourteen of Henderson’s 29 MMA wins were against Brazilians, and he will have the chance to add another name to that list.

"It’s crazy when I think that my very first fights were in Brazil and now I’m coming back," he said. "It’s been so long, but I’m excited. Hopefully I have some Brazilian fans that will be rooting for me. I’m excited to go there and compete in Brazil. The sport is so huge down there.

"Usually wherever I go I don’t feel like people don’t like me. I’ve been around in this sport for a long time. Fighting against Vitor, it’s been a long time also. He has done great things in the sport too, so it should be an entertaining fight for the fans."

Coming of two close decision losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, Henderson "can’t let that happen again". And that’s why he’s training hard at Team Quest to "beat Vitor again."

"I expect to beat him," he said. "It could be a war. Last time we went the distance. I controlled and beat him pretty good for three rounds. I don’t know how much I can say I beat him up, maybe a little bit, but I really want to show the fans I’m not done. I had two losses in a row and I could say I won both but it still would be considered losses."

Henderson says it’s going to be an interesting fight, but that wasn’t the opponent he was expecting for his return to the Octagon.

"That wasn’t the type of fight I was looking for, I wanted one of the top 5 guys at 205 but for some reason Vitor called me out so I said ‘sure, whatever’," he said. "I don’t know why he wants to fight me."