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UFC Fight Night 77 results: Vitor Belfort knocks out Dan Henderson again in battle of legends

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Vitor Belfort's first strike attempted led to the finish.

"The Phenom" was extremely methodical over the first few minutes Saturday night. But when he struck, he struck decisively.

A Belfort left head kick sent Dan Henderson reeling in the opening minutes of their trilogy main event fight at UFC Fight Night 77 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Belfort pounced and finished with a flurry on the ground. Some, including Henderson, questioned referee Mario Yamasaki's stoppage. But looking at the replay, it seemed like "Hendo" went out for a second on the ground after a big Belfort left. The finish came at 2:07 of the first.

Belfort (25-11) won the last bout against Henderson, too, in a similar manner -- with a head kick at 1:17 of the first round. Henderson (31-14) won the first fight at PRIDE 32 in 2006 via unanimous decision.

Belfort, 38, rebounded from his middleweight title loss to Chris Weidman at UFC 187 in May. He came into this fight with questions surrounding a sketchy drug test in 2012 before his bout with Jon Jones and his past history with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). But the Brazilian star and former UFC light heavyweight champion is still one of the best 185-pound fighters in the world.

Henderson, 45, was coming off a first-round knockout of Tim Boetsch in June. However, overall Henderson has lost three of four and six of eight fights. The MMA legend and former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion has one more fight left on his UFC contract.

In the co-main event, Glover Teixeira once again cemented himself as one of the best light heavyweights in the world. And he's been that for the better part of a decade.

Teixeira finished Patrick Cummins by TKO at 1:12 of the second round in a fairly dominant performance. Teixeira caught Cummins against the cage and let rip with combinations. A bloodied Cummins stayed on his feet, but referee Herb Dean jumped in to save him.

In the first round, Teixeira landed big shots, but Cummins ate them and took the Brazilian down three times. He just couldn't keep him there and Teixeira finished the round with a big, hard combination that rocked Cummins.

Teixeira (24-4) has won two in a row via finish after dropping two straight to Jon Jones and Phil Davis. Teixeira, 36, owns wins in his career Ryan Bader, Quinton Jackson and Ovince Saint Preux. Cummins (8-2) was coming off a win over Rafael Cavalcante at UFC 190 in August. The former Penn State All-American wrestler is 4-3 in the UFC.

There might not be a more exciting young fighter in the world than Thomas Almeida. "Thomasinha" did it again Saturday night with a first-round knockout (4:24) of Anthony Birchak.

Almeida landed a flurry of strikes near the end of the first with Birchak against the cage. The culmination was a bomb of a right hand that turned Birchak's lights out at impact. Birchak dropped straight down and fell back with his right leg tucked under him. It was a scary sight and a visceral, highlight-reel knockout. Birchak had his moments in the fight and showed no fear of Almeida's striking, but it's difficult to win a stand-up war with the Brazilian.

Almeida (20-0), still just 24 years old, has won all four of his fights in the UFC, three of them by form of knockout. He's getting closer and closer to contender fights at bantamweight. Birchak (12-3) has lost two of his three fights in the promotion, but remains an up-and-coming fighter at age 29.

Alex Oliveira doesn't always look pretty or technically sound. But "Cowboy" sure can be effective. The Brazilian striker knocked out Piotr Hallmann with a pair of vicious right hands at 0:53 of the third round of their lightweight fight. Oliveira clearly won the first round with pressure striking, but might have dropped the second with sloppy ground work. It didn't matter. Oliveira (14-2-1, 1 NC) absolutely crushed Hallmann in the third. He has now won three straight, while Hallmann (15-5) has lost three in a row.

Rashid Magomedov is going to need a big fight next. The Dagestan native had a complete performance in a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) win over Gilbert Burns. Magomedov might have been able to finish Burns in the second and third rounds, but was content with surgically picking apart the Brazilian jiu-jitsu standout with precision striking.

Magomedov (20-1) has now won 12 straight and a step up in competition -- like a top-15 opponent -- is necessary. The 31-year-old had not fought since last December. It was the first loss for Burns (10-1), a top MMA prospect. The 29-year-old Blackzilians fighter was coming off a third-round submission win over Alex Oliveira in March.

Corey Anderson put together his second strong performance in three months with a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) win over Fabio Maldonado. Anderson (7-1) dominated every round with wrestling and when the takedowns weren't working Maldonado landed some solid hands. The Ultimate Fighter 19 winner beat Jan Blachowicz by unanimous decision at UFC 191 in September and filled in to face Maldonado on short notice after Tom Lawlor pulled out due to injury.

On the prelims, Gleison Tibau pulled off a rear-naked choke submission win over Abel Trujillo in just 1:45 of the first round, but it did not come without controversy. Tibau appeared to have the choke in and referee Keith Peterson thought Trujillo had gone to sleep, stopping the fight. However, Trujillo was fine and immediately popped up to dispute the call.

"The referee stopped it prematurely," Trujillo said. "The fight was just starting. I didn't tap. It was an unfortunate stop."

Thiago Tavares locked in a choke of his own -- of the guillotine variety -- to stop Clay Guida at just 0:39 of the first round on the prelims. Chas Skelly defeated Kevin Souza with a rear-naked choke at 1:56 of the second round. Johnny Case took home a unanimous decision win in a tight one against Yan Cabral.

On the Fight Pass prelims, Jimmie Rivera beat Pedro Munhoz in a back-and-forth fight via split decision. Matheus Nicolau defeated Bruno Korea by third-round submission (Japanese necktie) and Viscardi Andrade took out Gasan Umalatov by unanimous decision.

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