Vitor Belfort continued his ascent in the middleweight division and scored his third straight KO with a brutal win over the fading Dan Henderson in a light heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night 32 on Saturday.
Belfort stunned the ever-durable "Hendo" early before rendering the former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler unconscious with a vicious high kick just 77 seconds into the bout.
Vitor's a completely different fighter than he was when he was younger. He's mentally there, he's physically there, he's more well-rounded than, yeah, I'm blown away by tonight's performance, we'll see what's next.
Belfort lived up to his billing as a swift finisher when he cracked and dropped the iron-jawed Henderson with a left uppercut that landed flush on his chin roughly a minute into the fight.
Once he got a whiff of blood, Belfort shifted from first to fifth gear and began raining punches on the scrambling Hendo.
Henderson eventually got to his base and then back to his feet, where Belfort uncorked a left high kick that put one of the most resilient fighters in MMA history to sleep.
After the press conference, White made the most significant wave on Twitter by posting the following:
Dana says that barring injury or something crazy, Vitor will next fight the winner of Weidman/Silva 2.— UFC News (@UFCNews) November 10, 2013
Here's a look at some other interesting Twitter reactions to Hendo's first KO loss.
Oh shit! That was fast.— Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon) November 10, 2013
Holy shit! Belfort is on fire! @vitorbelfort
— Brad Tavares (@BradTavares) November 10, 2013
Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwww lindo demais..— Antonio Pezao Silva (@BigfootSilva) November 10, 2013
K so vitor dropped the B bombs first.— Scott jorgensen (@Scottjorgensen) November 10, 2013
Brazilian TRT > American TRT #UFC— Mackens Semerzier (@MackDaMenaceMMA) November 10, 2013
Critics will continue to discredit Belfort because of his use of testosterone replacement therapy. However, it's a futile argument to contest that any middleweight deserves to fight the winner of Anderson Silva/Chris Weidman II more than the 36-year-old Brazilian.
The 43-year-old Hendo, who's ranked sixth at light heavyweight, should reevaluate his future plans of continuing to compete against top-flight competition. After all, he finished his current contract on a three-fight losing streak, and it seems unlikely that a legend like Henderson would assume a gatekeeper role.