Posted 11/08/2013 by Marlene Taborda in Untethered MMA

UFC Fight Night 32: Belfort vs Henderson Preview

By Mike Fagan, November 8th, 2013

Vitor Belfort is fighting, so that means the anti-TRT yahoos pop up with their tsk-tsks and finger wagging and so on. Belfort’s opponent is Dan Henderson, the godfather of TRT in MMA. Henderson generally escapes similar condemnations. Why? Because he’s white? Because he’s likeable? Because he doesn’t call himself an old lion or young dinosaur? I don’t know.

And that trend continues, despite the two fighting each other. I did some Googling and came up with the following results (looking at the last week):

“Vitor Belfort” TRT -”Dan Henderson” = 3850 results

“Dan Henderson” TRT -”Vitor Belfort” = 650 results

Quick explanation. The first search term is looking pages with the phrases “Vitor Belfort” and TRT that also don’t include the phrase “Dan Henderson.” The second term is the same, swapping “Vitor Belfort” and “Dan Henderson.”

That’s nearly six times as many results for Belfort.

I caught two pieces from legitimate/respected members of the MMA media. Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports wrote a piece titled “Vitor Belfort’s rebirth remains marred by TRT use”. MMA Junkie/USA Today’s Ben Fowlkes wrote a piece called “Vitor Belfort’s latest TRT remarks highlight difference between want and need”.

Iole mentions Henderson six times, all in reference to the first fight between Belfort and Henderson at Pride 32. Fowlkes mentions Henderson a single time, casually linking Henderson with TRT toward the end of his piece.

Iole’s piece is more straight reporting than op-ed, but he offers this bit on the issues Belfort faces convincing the public he isn’t cheating:

First, the most common way for a man his age to have low testosterone production is prior steroid use. The use of synthetic testosterone inhibits the body’s production of testosterone.

Second, his performance as a fighter has improved dramatically since he’s gone on TRT.

Third, his body is more muscular and defined than it has ever been.

Fourth, his offer to quit taking TRT if he gets a title shot suggests he doesn’t need it.


1. Hendo’s never popped for steroids like Belfort, but many anti-TRT zealots point out that low testosterone is rare among 18-40 year old men. (Henderson start using somewhere around 36 or 37.) Yet, Henderson’s TRT needs are never scrutinized the same as Belfort’s.

2. Henderson’s performance improved after he began use. Prior to 2007 (when he admits starting on TRT), he finished seven fights by KO/TKO due to strikes in 25 fights. Those names he finished include Akihiro Gono, Ryo Chonan, Murilo Bustamante, Shungo Oyama, Akira Shoji, and Crezio de Souza.

Since 2007? Five KO/TKOs in 13 fights over names like Wanderlei Silva, Michael Bisping, Renato Sobral, Rafael Cavalcante, and Fedor Emelianenko.

3. Is Dan’s body more muscular? I don’t know. I’m not sure you can even say the same for Vitor when you look at old photos of the Phenom. Especially when you’re arguing that Vitor’s low testosterone might be the result of prior use.

4. Dan just went off TRT in his last fight against Rashad Evans. He’s back on for this one.

Fowlkes, meanwhile, could have used this opportunity – the two most infamous TRT users in MMA – to continue his long-running argument against the TRT loophole. He could have shown the contrast between the treatment of Belfort and Henderson. How, in the end, Henderson is making use of the same loophole as Belfort; that he shouldn’t be treated any differently.

Instead, he focuses on Belfort and recent comments Belfort made, choosing to ignore Dan until the end of his article. And I just don’t understand why Dan gets that sort of pass time and time again. As far as I can tell, he’s never explained the need of his use outside of “my testosterone levels were really low,” which is the same generic babble every other TRT user spouts. And, like other guys who say they need it and then suddenly don’t, he stopped using himself for a fight.

The worst part of all this is that I don’t even care about TRT. It’s the double standard that bothers me. Belfort is an easy target. He says weird things, he’s always been a bit of a head case, and, well, he’s foreign. Henderson is cool! And personable! And people like him! It’s not easy to attack a guy like that. But if you’re serious about removing TRT from the sport, you NEED to go after a guy like Henderson just as hard as Belfort.

-Another long rant leaves me with little space for the bullet points. But we endure.

-Iole quoted Dana White as saying Vitor is now “mentally tough.” And, well, when have we seen that in his latest UFC run? Four of his five wins have come in the first run, and he knocked Michael Bisping out 90 seconds into round two. Anderson Silva front kicked Vitor’s soul into heaven in the first round, and Vitor faded after nearly submitting Jon Jones in round one. The only other time he’s been past the second round since the first Henderson fight was back in 2007 when he beat James Zikic by decision. James Zikic is not Dan Henderson.

I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Belfort’s suddenly a mentally stronger fighter now, and if Henderson pressures Belfort, he should win the fight.

-Of course, that depends on two things: 1) Henderson not relying on his right hand at distance and 2) Henderson not fighting like a 43 year old man. The TRT should help the latter. I’m not sure if anything can help the former.

But there is the issue of Dan’s UFC contract, which runs up after this fight. He recognizes that coming off three losses would put him in a major hole at the negotiating table, so a win is priority number one here. The optimal path to winning does not involve standing toe-to-toe with Vitor Belfort. Hendo and Team Quest have never been known for their game plans, but I’d hope they see the obvious here.


Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at, also available as a podcast via iTunes.




Marlene Taborda