SAO PAULO – A trilogy bout between Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort headlines UFC Fight Night 77 at the Ibirapuera gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Saturday night, and "Hendo" plans on avenging a tough knockout loss he suffered the last time they met.
"The Phenom" became the first fighter to finish Henderson with punches in 2013, when both fighters were on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), but the former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion doubts Belfort was using only TRT back then.
"By the looks of it, yeah, obviously he was doing more than just TRT," Henderson said during Thursday’s media day in Sao Paulo. "He was abusing something. Obviously, we won’t know for sure unless somebody comes out and says they know, but I have no idea. I can only speculate."
With Belfort’s controversial pre-UFC 152 drug test results becoming public only three years after "The Phenom" fought Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, Henderson wonders if something like that can happen for their fight too.
"It’s possible, you know?" he said. "A lot of times the truth tends to come out eventually, like Lance Armstrong."
Belfort criticized the media for attacking him for his past TRT use, claiming that 12 of the 14 fighters that has an exemption for TRT were Americans, and he’s the only one getting heat for it. Henderson has a theory why that happens, though.
"Well, he’s also tested positive for steroids in the past, and since he’s tested for TRT and other things too," Henderson said. "I think that if you look at the picture of both of us when we fought then, and a picture of both of us now, I mean, a picture says a lot. Obviously, he was doing a lot more than I was, my body hasn’t changed at all. I was barely doing any TRT, and I wasn’t abusing anything."
Coming off a big first-round knockout over Tim Boetsch, Henderson plans on stopping "The Phenom" in Sao Paulo, but won’t rush for a quick finish.
"Mentally, I don’t think he’s as strong as I am, and I don’t think his heart is there either, as mine is," he said. "He’s tough, he’s talented, he’s been around a long time, but I think when it comes down to it, when he gets pressured, sometimes he breaks, and that’s what I’m hoping to do as well.
"The difference is gonna be that I’m gonna win," added Henderson, looking back at his 2013 loss to Belfort. "I’m just gonna make sure that I beat him and not make mistakes. Last time, I made a couple mistakes that I’m not gonna do again. I’m gonna test him, test his conditioning, and see if he’s ready to go five rounds."