- UFC Fight Night 32
Belfort hands Henderson first KO loss
Vitor Belfort recorded his third consecutive knockout victory on Saturday, finishing Dan Henderson with a nasty left head kick just 77 seconds into their light heavyweight contest at UFC Fight Night 32 in Goiania, Brazil.
It marked the first time Henderson (29-11) has been knocked out in a professional career that dates back to 1997. It's also the first time he's ever been finished in the opening five minutes of a fight.
"First thing I'd like to say is believe in yourselves whenever someone tells you that you can't do something," Belfort said.
Belfort (24-10) now has fought five times as a professional in his native Brazil, and he's recorded a knockout in each. This latest might be the most impressive, considering Henderson's long list of credentials.
A counter left uppercut by Belfort rocked Henderson early when the former Olympic wrestler moved forward with his signature right hand. Henderson fell to his back and tried to recover, but Belfort swarmed with hammerfists and short left hands.
Dazed, Henderson managed to get back to his feet but was immediately dropped again by a Belfort left head kick. That was all referee Dan Miragliotta needed to see, as he pulled Belfort off for his 17th career knockout win.
The loss is Henderson's third in a row, all of which occurred this year. He had been scheduled to fight Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2012, but that bout fell through when Henderson suffered a last-minute knee injury. Prior to this loss, Henderson dropped back-to-back split decision defeats to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans.
Belfort now looks the part of the clear No. 1 contender at 185 pounds. His two previous knockout victories came against top 10-ranked opponents Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold. Belfort, 36, came up short in a middleweight title bid against Silva in February 2011, suffering a first-round knockout loss.
Cezar Ferreira continues to make a strong impression in the UFC middleweight division, as he edged Daniel Sarafian via split decision for his third Octagon victory. Ferreira (7-2) survived a few scary moments on his feet and showcased an impressive offensive wrestling game, outpointing Sarafian via judges' scores of 30-27 and 30-28. The final judge scored it 29-28 for Sarafian.
Igor Pokrajac chose to push the pace early against Rafael Cavalcante - and he paid for it. Cavalcate (12-4) earned his first win in the UFC, finishing Pokrajac via submission to strikes in the first round of their light heavyweight contest. Referee Kevin MacDonald called a stop just 78 seconds into the bout.
"I was very well prepared," Cavalante said. "I think I was lacking dedication, and I fixed it. I reset my goals, and I started it differently.
"Fighting here in Brazil is priceless, having the Brazilian crowd and this energy. All of my friends are here. Half this arena is here to see me. I'm the best 'Feijão' I've ever been."
If Brandon Thatch intended to make a statement upon entering the UFC welterweight division, mission accomplished. Thatch, 28, scored his second straight first-round finish in the UFC - making that 11 stoppages before the five-minute mark, totaling 14 minutes, 43 seconds of cage time - by beating Paulo Thiago.
Two minutes into the fight, Thatch followed up a right kick to the body with a devastating knee to the Brazilian's liver. Thiago crumbled onto the canvas, tapping instantly.
"I'm happy with the win, but I feel I got a little sloppy towards the end there," Thatch said. "I want to take the next couple of months to get back to basics and get more disciplined.
Ryan LaFlare maintained a hellish pace for 15 minutes to take a well-earned unanimous decision over UFC debutant Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Jeremy Stephens knew coming in that Rony 'Jason' Bezzera had the bad habit of ducking his head while throwing wild rights. So Stephens watched for it, saw it, and timed it perfectly - finishing a mere 40 seconds after the opening bell.
Bezzera was out on his feet after Stephens planted a high kick to his jaw, and he certainly didn't need the diving right hand - picture Henderson's finish of Michael Bisping - that came behind it.
"I didn't expect it to end like that, but I'm excited it did," Stephens said. "I was able to use faints to set him up and he did, so I was able to time my kick perfectly. It was all technique I worked on with my coaches."
This article originally appeared on ESPN.com
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