Heading into his UFC Fight Night 32 bout against Brazilian MMA legend Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson knew there were high stakes going into that fight. Hendo was riding a two-fight losing streak in back to back split decision losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans at light heavyweight. He knew that if he lost a fight to a middleweight, it would be a major setback in his career. Especially because he had already beaten Vitor Belfort some seven years earlier in Pride. Hendo had never been knocked out before, he was highly regarded as having one of the toughest chins in all of professional mixed martial arts. However, that outcome of the fight that night would shock Hendo, as well as the rest of the world.
For the first time in his MMA career, Hendo lost by knockout. As he was rushing forward to throw his infamous overhand right, Belfort floored the former Olympian with a sneaky uppercut. The Brazilian smelt blood and swarmed all over Henderson, throwing punches at machine-gun speed until Henderson stood up and the final blow was delivered: a vicious left high kick. Henderson dropped to the floor like a bag of bricks and the ref stopped the fight.
Not only was this the first time Hendo had lost by a knockout, it also marked the first time in his career in which he has lost three fights in a row. To make matters worse for the forty-three year old, his fight with Belfort was the last fight on his UFC contract, and no announcements have been made by the UFC yet regarding negotiations for a new one.
However, as grim as his scenario may seem, it hasn’t diminished his eagerness to keep fighting. In an interview with Fox Sports 1’s Heidi Androl after the fight, Hendo told her, “I’m definitely not done.”
“I got caught tonight, and I was ready to go for this fight. I just got caught. That happens, I guess, and after 16 years it’s bound to happen,” Henderson said undauntedly.
Henderson made it clear that he had no intention of retiring. He emphasized that he thinks he is still capable of competing and he intends to return to the octagon.
“I’m just going to get back in there and win fights. I got caught and got finished, but the last two could easily went my way and didn’t. So, I’ve just had some unfortunate luck the last three fights. But, my body feels good and I’m able to continue. Honestly I haven’t felt this good in a while.”
As of yet, there have been no announcements from the Henderson camp or the UFC on negotiations for a new contract.