For the first minute not a single strike was thrown by either man as they measured and stalked one another. Then, as he has done for nearly two decades, Belfort struck with sudden violence.
"The Phenom" connected with a left uppercut flush to the jaw of Henderson that dropped "Hendo" to the canvas. Belfort followed up with strikes on the ground. Henderson was able to get back to his feet but not out of danger.
The Brazilian struck next with a left high kick, also right to Henderson's jaw. That blow knocked the former Olympian out cold and left him flat on his back.
The win is Belfort's fifth in his last six fights.
At 43, Henderson has accomplished enough to be a first ballot hall of famer. He has also now lost three straight fights.
This last bout is the final one on Henderson's contract with the UFC. The wrestler may not have a great deal of leverage should he want to sign another deal with the organization.
Chances are they will either offer him a new contract with a considerable pay cut or decide not to extend an offer to "Hollywood" Dan at all. Henderson is in a difficult position at this point in his career because he is still a threat to any given opponent on any given night with his wrestling skills and punching power, but he's no spring chicken, has a losing streak and doesn't come cheap.
Henderson had never before been knocked out the way he was Saturday but after 16 years in professional MMA, it may be time for him to transition out of competitive fighting.
Belfort is also in an interesting place in his career. Though he himself is nearing 40 years old, Belfort is red-hot, winning almost every time out in impressive fashion of late.
Except, of course, for when he faces champions. His last loss was to current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones when he was submitted with a shoulder lock.
Three fights prior to that, Belfort got handled with ease by then middleweight champ Anderson Silva. Silva is set to rematch current 185 pound title holder Chris Weidman in December, who took his belt this past summer.
Either Silva or Weidman will be champion in the new year and Belfort insists that he deserves a title shot. The UFC has him ranked No. 2 in the division in their own rankings.
However, Belfort has not yet erased the memory of his getting knocked out in highlight reel fashion in the first round against Silva and if Weidman were to beat Anderson for a second straight time, Vitor would not seem like much of a threat to him either.
Nonetheless, the UFC seems to be promoting Belfort as a likely future title challenger. What do you want to see the UFC do with Belfort next? Let us know in the comments section.
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda
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- Vitor Belfort
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