Photo via UFC
That was before the "Talented" one suffered a detached retina and was forced to undergo eye surgery, surely one of the scariest times in his life.
But that didn't mean anyone should have counted him out.
Indeed, Belcher made his return after 16 months away from action last night (Sept. 17) at the UFC Fight Night 25: "Battle on the Bayou" event in New Orleans, Louisiana. And he absolutely shellacked Jason MacDonald, dominating him and returning to the form that had fans and pundits taking him seriously as a major player in the middleweight division.
As he explained after his big win, he couldn't have dreamt of a better return to action.
"I couldn't have dreamt it to be any better. I've been out for so long, so it's great to fight here in New Orleans so close to home. It feels good to be back. It took a lot of mental training. If your mind isn't ready to come back your body isn't. I started four or five months ago and started to get into the groove. I told myself it was all or nothing. He pulled me down. Being on top on the ground is probably one of my best places."
There were questions asked before last night as to whether or not Belcher would react well to facing the prospect of being punched directly in his eye.
Asked and answered. It didn't affect him at all.
Talk must now turn to where exactly Belcher fits into the 185-pound division. He's won three fights in a row and five of his last six overall. He's definitely not on the verge of a title shot but he's surely knocking on the door to top contender status, right?
Or is there a lot more work to be done? Who would you like to see Belcher square off against in his next bout?