by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
When you think of legends in mixed martial arts, names like
Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell and
Tito Ortiz are commonplace. However, it’s hard to make a list like that
without including the name Vitor Belfort.
Belfort made his debut at UFC 12 where he defeated Tra
Telligman and Scott Ferrozzo. He was only 20 years old at the time. He had
extremely fast and accurate hands and soon became one of the most feared
strikers in the Octagon. His 44-second win over Wanderlei Silva remains as one
of the most exciting knockouts in the history of MMA.
“The Phenom” quickly became one of the most popular figures
in the sport. However, his career has weathered some ups and downs. He
briefly held the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight belt before
losing it in his very next fight to Randy Couture. He lost a razor-thin split
decision to Tito Ortiz in his last Octagon appearance back at UFC 51. Since
then, he’s had mixed results in Pride and Cage Rage.
The past has been written for Belfort, but he is looking to
author a new future for himself at a new weight class. He will be dropping to
middleweight in his next fight this Saturday on Affliction’s debut show.
Belfort spoke with MMAWeekly Radio recently to discuss his
upcoming fight. “I’m really excited,” he exclaimed. “It’s a great event. We
look forward to it becoming big. The sport’s already huge. We just need the
right people around the sport; the right promoters taking care of fighters.
Everything is right there; it’s just waiting for us.”
One of the biggest changes Belfort has made is his
transition to Xtreme Couture, which is quickly earning a reputation as the premiere
MMA training facility today. The training has yielded positive results for the
“I think the mentality of Xtreme Couture is wonderful. It’s
a great facility, a great group of sparring partners, good trainers. I really
enjoy it. Everybody is equal over here. Coach Tompkins is wonderful. I’m
having a great time with him and other coaches over here too. I think it’s the
perfect environment for a fighter. It’s been a pleasure. I’ve developed my
skills and I’m ready to go. I’m really enjoying it and being ready for my next
A believer in fight unity, Belfort feels that the fighters
are what drive the sport and that they need to stick together outside of the
“We need people who stick together,” he stated. “We can
fight against each other, but we’re friends. We’re all on the same page.
We’re fighting for the same reason. We’re trying to put food on the table at
home. There is going to be some time when we get together like a union.
“Everybody can watch from each other. We get our respect
from the promoters. We get our respect from the fans. When we get that, we’ll
get more power. Not just to get better pay, but also we are going to have more
respect from the fans when they see that we are a union. We are there to
fight. We respect each other. We’ll help each other. We’ll be like a family.”
While some stars in sports such as baseball and football
have alienated the fans and forgotten who pays their salary, Belfort recognizes
how important the fans are to MMA.
“The fans are the ones supporting this thing. All the
sports in the world including soccer, American football; without the fans they
are nothing. That’s why I’m always thinking of them. They are always on my
mind. One of the reasons I’m still doing this is for them. I’m really excited
to fight in America for my fans.”
With an excellent training camp at Xtreme Couture, Belfort
feels he is in great shape and ready to resurrect his career to what it was.
“I’m ready to go right now,” he said excitedly. “If the
fight was to go tomorrow, I’m ready. It’s so good to be here and have everyone
correct me. Everybody is helping each other. We help so many fighters here.
It’s like a family. I’m safe. I’m happy. People can look in my eyes and see
how ready I am; my body, my mind, my soul, my spirit. I just have to take my
time and listen to the trainers. I’m here to accomplish my job.”
Some fans have wondered what Belfort’s aspirations are at
middleweight. Will they witness the return of the “Old Vitor”?
“My goal is Terry Martin. But if you asked me what my goal
is to be at the top of this weight division, to fight the best and be the best.
That’s everybody’s goal – to be in the spotlight. I want to accomplish
so many things. One of the things I want is to be the champion and fighting
the best. Right now I’m working for Affliction. Whatever is in front of me, I
just have to take it. The promoters decide. I have my agent. I’ll be ready
Terry Martin is a dangerous competitor who has very good
wrestling and power in both of his hands. Belfort realizes the strengths of
his Chicagoan opponent, but he feels confidently that he will be ready for
wherever the fight may go.
“Terry’s a tough guy. He’s very strong. He has heavy
hands. I’m facing a lion, man. Two lions are going to face each other on the
19th, so I’m ready to go. I’m ready to knock him out. I’m ready to finish
him on the ground. I’m ready to take him down. I’m ready for anything!”