It was only a matter of time before these two had to fight.
After all, Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson, who combined share 72 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fights, have been competing in combat sports for over 16 years. The end result, as it is for any fighter striving to be the best, was a spot in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
But there was a time when the ZUFFA-owned promotion could not lay claim to housing all of the world's top combatants.
PRIDE Fighting Championship, operating under Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE), was responsible for over 60 live events across a television broadcast of more than 40 countries worldwide. In addition, its 2002 "Shockwave" extravaganza packed 91,107 rabid fans into the Tokyo National Stadium in Japan.
Part of that all-star roster was Belfort and Henderson. "The Phenom" drifted back to PRIDE after an abysmal run in the states. Three consecutive losses saw him part ways with UFC and he was promptly welcomed back to "The Land of the Rising Sun" with a submission loss against Alistair Overeem.
He went 1-1 on the regional scene before returning to the Saitama Super Arena with a blistering knockout of Kazuo Takahashi at "Critical Countdown Absolute."
Meanwhile, Henderson got his start in PRIDE at the turn of the century and never left. "Hendo" racked up an 11-5 record over the span of six years, but failed to capture meaningful wins when they mattered the most, falling to Wanderlei Silva, Ricardo Arona and the Nogueira brothers.
Then came a unanimous decision loss to Kazuo Misaki at "Bushido 12."
As a result, PRIDE found itself in possession of two talented fighters with no place to go. Their respective performances were not enough to justify an entry into the championship sweepstakes, so it only made sense to pair them off against one another.
And the promotion knew their names carried a significant amount of weight with stateside fans.
That's why Belfort and Henderson were scheduled to hook 'em up at the PRIDE 32 pay-per-view (PPV) event, scheduled for Oct. 21, 2006 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Brazilian tipped the scale at the light heavyweight limit, while the former Olympian was a lean and mean 196 pounds.
Size doesn't always matter.
While the crowd was vocal in its support of Belfort, he was unable to defend against his opponent's wrestling. Henderson scored a takedown right out of the gate in the opening frame, which pretty much set the tempo for the remainder of the fight.
"The Phenom" was able to sweep in rounds one and three, but it wasn't enough.
"Hendo" effectively mixed his power striking with wrestling and wrapped things up in "Sin City" with a clean sweep on the judges' scorecards (30-27, 30-27, 30-26). The loss, however, would be the least of Belfort's problems, thanks to a positive drug test for for the anabolic steroid 4-hydroxytestosterone.
Fast-forward seven years and Belfort is still paying for his mistake.
His decision to undergo testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) -- a controversial procedure that's also part and parcel of Henderson's career -- has kept him from getting licensed in Nevada, home base of UFC. That's because fighters with a history of steroid use are not typically granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), the permission slip "Hendo" uses to stay in the commission's good graces.
Not that Belfort would complain, considering he's scored two sensational head-kick knockouts while competing in Brazil.
That put him right back into the middleweight title picture and could have him facing the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva, who rematch for the division title at UFC 168 next month in Las Vegas. A loss to Henderson, naturally, would derail those plans.
And likely leave them in the same place they were seven years ago: All dressed up and nowhere to go.
The good news is, we won't have to wait much longer to find out. "Belfort vs. Henderson 2" headlines the upcoming UFC Fight Night 32 event on FOX Sports 1, which gets underway this Saturday night (Nov. 9, 2013) from Goiania Arena in Goias, Brazil.
History may be repeated this weekend ... or perhaps rewritten.