Breaking Down the Takedown: Belfort vs Henderson 3

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This Saturday from Sao Paulo Brazil, the UFC brings a rubber match between two living legends of the MMA world when Dan Henderson meets Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort.

The two men have met twice before with each picking up a win over the other. They first met under the PRIDE banner in 2006, with Henderson picking up a lopsided decision victory that was only expected of the PRIDE star in Henderson. Their first second meeting however, was in the midst of Belfort’s TRT drama and ended with “Hendo” suffering his first and only KO loss in his 40+ fight career.

Breaking Down the Takedown: Belfort vs Henderson 3

Both men are coming to different stages in their careers as they prepare for the November 14th bout. Henderson is coming off a win over Tim Boetsch after back to back losses against top contenders Gegard Mousasi and the current Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. Meanwhile, Vitor Belfort is coming off a loss to the current Middleweight champion in Chris Weidman after a string of wins during his “TRT days” over: Henderson himself, Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold. I’m here to examine both men’s strengths, weaknesses and edges they each possess as they prepare to meet inside the Octagon.

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort:
• 38 years old, 24-11 MMA Record
• Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
• Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

-Standup Striking
Vitor Belfort is known to have some of the fastest hands in the UFC amongst any fighters. He has shown this against his win against Wanderlei Silva back at UFC Brazil in 1998. In his latest fight against Chris Weidman, albeit a losing effort, Vitor showed to still have a fast hands as he threw a flurry of punches and elbows towards the champion. With his hands still as sharp and fast as ever, Vitor’s striking is something to always take into consideration.

Belfort’s UFC debut came all the way back in 1997 at only 20 years of age. The 18 years of inside the cage has given Belfort the knowledge of any and all things that may come his way. He has fought veterans of the cage as well as the “new breed” of fighters in the modern era and has evolved with the sport to still be considered one of the top fighters in the world.

While most people would argue that Vitor is one to gas himself right away, a counter argument is shown in that the pace is completely in his control during his fights. He is able to turn on the heat, so to speak, whenever he senses his opponent is hurt or uncomfortable with his forward pressure. With his relentless pacing and control of the fight, Belfort’s presence is definitely one you cannot completely train for.

-Ground Game against Wrestlers
While he does hold a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu it is very easy to note that most of Belfort’s success stems from his stand up rather than the ground. In his last outing against Chris Weidman the fight was almost immediately over once the men took to the mat and Weidman rained down strikes to stop the bout. With enough pressure and constant control, Vitor may not be able to match up well off of his back.

We all know just how fast and uncontrollable VItor can be when he gets into his comfort zone. He seemingly floors the gas pedal and moves forward when he smells the kill and this in itself can be his undoing. The only fight we have seen of Belfort post TRT has been his loss to Weidman and some say it was his cardio that gave out after his barrage of strikes while others contest that Weidman’s ground game was too much for Belfort. This may be the first time we see just how much the cardio of Belfrot has changed since the ban of TRT and if he unloads his hardest shots early, It may end up being a long night for The Phenom.

From basic strikes, to slashing elbows and even spinning head kicks, Vitor’s standup has been one of the most feared in the entire realm of MMA. You can never hear of Belfort without the words TRT coming into play and maybe that is what carried him along on the string of knockout wins. The bottom line is that all these weapons are in his arsenal and he is still capable of unloading them at any time whether they be lightening quick or full power and sluggish. With Vitor across the cage, the striking game is always a dangerous one.

Dan “Hendo” Henderson:
• 45 years old, 31-13 MMA Record
• Former PRIDE Middleweight Welterweight Champion
• Former Strikeforce Light heavyweight Champion

-The “H Bomb”
Dan Henderson’s famous “H-Bomb” has been a go-to weapon for the 45 year old warrior and has gained fame within the MMA community. His spectacular knockout over Michael Bisping at UFC 100 is one of the, if not most, memorable KO win in Henderson’s entire career. With his increasing age as well as wanting to still fight, many people wondered if his power diminished at all heading into his bout with Tim Boestch, however, Hendo silenced critics, picking up a KO win.

While his right overhand has certainly become the most recognizable trait of Henderson, his wrestling is just as big a part of his arsenal as his famed punching power. With a high school wrestling background Henderson not only wrestled in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics, but won a gold medal at the Pan American Championships.

Henderson has seen his fair share of wars during his MMA career and time and time again it appears he takes his opponents best shots and continues to move forward. The first time it appeared that Hendo was still mortal was during his second encounter with Belfort where a head kick led Belfort to the KO win.

-Father Time
45 in the world of MMA seems like an eternity and with the amounts of fights Henderson has taken his body has seen more miles than most fighters may ever see. As much as people may not want to admit it, time catches up with everyone and although a fan favorite, Dan Henderson is no exception.

-“One Trick Pony”
As of late, it can be claimed that most fighters may stick to a technique that certainly works for them. Some have wrestling, others embrace the grind or certain fighters may have a single strike they look for. For Dan Henderson “The H-Bomb” is certainly that. He circles his opponent, uses an inside leg kick with his lead left foot and launches the right over hand looking to hit his mark. It’s a technique that while devastating if it lands, can open a world of punishment and trouble should he rely too heavily on it.

With a high pedigree of wrestling under his belt, Henderson can look towards the takedown if things on the feet seem bleak. His smothering top control can certainly be a huge advantage over Belfort, a man who looks to strike for the majority of the fight. Look for “Hendo” to take things to the mat should the standup game be in Vitor’s favor.

Final Thoughts
Both of these men have made long and successful careers through MMA and it is hard to imagine them not being inducted into the Hall of Fame a ways down the road. With many credentials, techniques and milestones both Belfort and Henderson’s track records speak for themselves and will only prove it once again when they step into the cage. With that being said, I for one am giving the slight favorite to dan Henderson. I believe his wrestling and the potential rise of his famed over hand will be enough to break down The Phenom over the course of 5 rounds. The two men will meet in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Saturday, November 14th as the main event of UFC Fight Night 77: Belfort vs. Henderson 3.

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I am a 20 year old college student with a passion for MMA media and write for MMASucka. You can follow me on Twitter at @AwildKyle, it's always nice to meet new MMA enthusiasts.

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