Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Brazil for UFC Fight Night 32: "Belfort vs. Henderson," which takes place at the Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil on Saturday night (Nov. 9, 2013). The main event features a rematch between two of the heaviest punchers in the sport, who also happen to be long-time multi-divisional championship contenders.
Dan Henderson edged Vitor Belfort at Pride FC 32 via unanimous decision back in 2006. And now Belfort has the chance to get revenge on Brazilian soil. The five-round main event will be contested at Light Heavyweight and is sure to spark up debate on both competitors' usage of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
Henderson is 1-2 in his latest (third) UFC stint, while Belfort has gone 5-2 in the Octagon since 2009.
Meanwhile, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" original main event that never happened will serve as the co-main event when finalists Cezar Ferreira and Daniel Sarafian will tussle in an all-Brazilian battle. Ferreira defeated Sergio Moraes, who stepped in to replace the injured Sarafian in the final.
"Mutante" ultimately emerged the Middleweight tournament winner and now gets to prove his worth against his original opponent.
Here are five burning questions heading into UFC Fight Night 32:
5. Which TUF alumni will prevail on Saturday night?
The co-main event features the original TUF: "Brazil" final between Cezar Ferreira and Daniel Sarafian. Apart from that mixed martial arts (MMA) match up, there will be an additional six competitors on the card who have fought through the show, including TUF Featherweight winner Rony Jason, finalist Godofredo Castro and Daren Cruickshank, to name a few.
The company holds onto TUF talent a little longer in hopes that the finalists and elite performers of the show can turn their prospect status into world championship material. There will be many chances in Brazil for all eight veterans to shine.
4. Will we see a few Zuffa vets released with a loss?
As the older cast members make room for the young stars like Brandon Thatch and promotional newcomer Omari Akhmedov, the older competitors find themselves with their backs against the wall, in dire need of entertaining and career-defining performances.
With the recent cuts the promotion has made as of late, it is difficult to be safe after one loss these days.
Such familiar, but mid-level talent like Paulo Thiago, Rafael Cavalcante and Igor Pokrajac need to find ways to win and defeat their respective opponents to give their employers reasons to stick around. Thiago is the only one out of these three athletes going into his fight coming off a win (only his second in his last six). Meanwhile, "Feijao" is looking for his first UFC win and needs an impressive showing against Pokrajac to get back to the form that earned him the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight championship.
Pokrajac looks for his first victory in almost 1.5 years, having two losses and a "No Contest" in his past three outings.
3. Is this line up solid enough to lure in a large television crowd on a Saturday night?
Besides the heavily anticipated Pride FC 32 rematch between Dan Henderson vs. Vitor Belfort in the main event, this card is pretty thin. Maybe these cards that so many feel are watered-down are opportunities for younger (or lesser-known) fighters to be given a large platform in the hopes that they will perform greatly for themselves and for the company.
It could explain the reason there are so many young Brazilian fighters who fight in South America continuously for the promotion.
This card is in desperate need of a real co-main event. At least another actual attraction that could include former champions (such as the main event) or a pivotal and potential slugfest scrap somewhat like Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson's bout at UFC Fight Night 30 two weeks ago. In other words, a creative match that is highly unlikely to disappoint.
Just because it is a free card, it does not mean we should always expect cards like UFC Fight Night 26, or other top billings that do not require a purchase.
2. Can Dan Henderson prove he is worth the price tag?
Before signing a new deal with the company, the brass would like to see how "Hendo" does against "The Phenom" before contract negotiations.
Or maybe they will not start at all.
Dan Henderson, who finds himself in the last fight of his contract this Saturday, famously parted with UFC in favor of Strikeforce in 2009 (before the Zuffa buyout), citing he was worth a little bit more money. He went on to win the Strikeforce 205-pound championship and also defeated Fedor Emelianenko by knockout in the first round in Summer 2011.
With previous contract disputes between both parties before -- no matter what the conclusion of Saturday's main event -- it will be interesting to watch how this situation unfolds afterward.
1. How will everyone react to a Vitor Belfort victory -- himself included?
In all fairness to both main event fighters, they have each been at the center of their own debates when it concerns TRT. Belfort may have gotten in rougher in recent times based on his previous offenses and, ironically, his recent string of dazzling performances in the cage. He has also been petitioning for a title fight every couple of weeks or so, and has been a headache for the brass for matchmaking purposes.
Belfort has said that if he is awarded a title shot in the very near future, he will stop using TRT. It is already fishy to those who believe Belfort has been constantly booked in Brazil because of his inability to be licensed in Nevada. If Belfort can oust his fellow Pride FC veteran in his native Brazil, a title fight could be close by. However, it must be stressed that if Belfort -- or even Henderson for that matter -- defeats his opponent in devastating fashion, the TRT talk will be through the roof.
If Belfort keeps his promise and is booked somewhere else in the United States or in Canada (with the brass not worried about his fighting destinations), will it even change anything, or the perception of him that the fans have?
Those are our five burning questions heading into Brazil on Saturday night. What are yours?
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