Who wins the Vitor Belfort-Dan Henderson trilogy bout at UFC Fight Night 77, and how? Which other bouts on the Brazil card are you most interested in seeing?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Let’s call this fight what it really is: Vitor’s Steroid Burst vs. the H-Bomb. What’s the over/under on the time until knockout in this one, two and a half minutes? This bout is set up to be a short-lived, firefight that ends with a knockout. Nothing wrong with that, as it has the potential to be an edge-of-your-seat affair that concludes violently.
For all his wrestling credentials, Dan Henderson doesn’t care much to take it to the ground. His entire fighting strategy for years now has consisted of putting his left hand forward and kind of waving it around followed by a monster right hook. That’s pretty much it. The fact he can actually still win fights this way, despite absolutely no surprises or opponent-specific game planning, is testament to how dangerous that right hand really is.
Belfort’s physical transformation since coming off of massive amounts of steroids Testosterone Replacement Therapy is hard to miss. If you compare him now to when he weighed in for his fight against Jon Jones, it appears he’s lost the equivalent of an entire bantamweight in muscle mass. He was both ripped and enormous specimen sporting the physique akin to a WWE wrestler back then, where as now, he looks more fittingly like a “normal,” 38 year old athlete. While his sole fight off of TRT in the last two years was for the belt against Weidman, he still showed an initial burst of striking and malice that could overwhelm many fighters in his division.
Besides Henderson’s right hand, his biggest asset has always been a granite chin. At the age of 45, we’ve seen some slippage on that front, with the only two knockout losses of his storied career coming in his last five fights. It’s not a good thing for any fighter, but it’s much worse when your “defense” amounts to eating strikes, as opposed to avoiding them. In one of the rare fights where Belfort has youth on his side, expect a noticeable speed difference between him and the plodding Henderson. Vitor can be knocked out, provided Henderson connects with the H-Bomb, but don’t expect Henderson to get many of those off. Vitor will rush and attempt to overwhelm with strikes and kicks from varying angles early in the fight. He’s got a much better chance of connecting on sheer volume alone, and if Henderson doesn’t connect with one of his shots, he has nothing else to offer. Expect Belfort to avoid the right hand and end the match around the two minute mark by knockout.
I’ve got some interest in Glover Teixiera vs. Patrick Cummins. Teixiera has something of a chance to work his way back to a championship fight, and Cummins is relevant enough to at least not hurt that cause. Cummins has all the makings of a top 10 gatekeeper, as his current #10 ranking is about his ceiling.
Beyond that match, Thomas Almeida vs. Anthony Birchak is an exciting bantamweight tilt that has the potential to walk away with some Performance of the Night awards. Despite being only 24, Almeida has 20 fights under his belt, and is coincidentally riding a 20 -fight winning streak. A prolific finisher, his streak has seen fifteen knockouts and four submissions. Birchak is no slouch in that department, stopping opponents in ten of his twelve victories, six by way of submission. Birchak is both lower ranked, less experienced, and older than Ameida, but he’s no slouch, and should put on a show worth watching.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think Belfort wins by TKO in the second round. Henderson is just too old, even for a Belfort who is coming off the juice. Glover Teixiera vs. Patrick Cummins is the other big fight on the card. I think Teixiera wins by decision as Cummins just doesn’t have the striking skillset to beat him, and I think Teixiera will be good enough with his takedown defense to avoid most of the danger there. I’m also interested in Fabio Maldonaldo vs. Corey Anderson, but the rest of the card is full of fights I just hope for good action. I think this is a nice card overall and should have some very good fights.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
I don’t see an aging and fading Dan Henderson defeating Vitor Belfort at this point in time – as much as I love Hendo it’s just not going to happen. If it did it would shake things up on the top end of the division but let’s face it Hendo doesn’t have a lot of mileage left and Belfort is in the same ship. This fight is just spectacle and fun. Belfort is going to win by TKO in the second round. My other highlighted fights are Cummins vs. Teixeira, which could be a launching pad for Cummins should be win, or a comeback for Teixeira. Also Trujillo and Tibau has potential for a great back and forth scrap. I’m also going to keep an eye on Tavares and Guida on the prelims. It’s a solid fight card that should be fun to watch.
ERIC HOBAUGH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
No one is a bigger Hendo fan than me, but he needs to retire. He has done just about everything in MMA and is one of the very few living legends still around. He is 2-5 in his last 7 bouts. He looked awful against Mousasi and Cormier. Belfort is still fighting well and is a legit threat to anyone he fights. Belfort wins this by KO in the first round. I feel like if he can put a couple wins together he gets another title shot. The rest of the card is a snooze fest, but any time Clay Guida fights it’s very entertaining. He is fighting a very game Thiago Tavares. This could very well be the fight of the night.