Former UFC light heavyweight titleholder Vitor Belfort rejuvenated his career when he dropped down to the middleweight division in 2008. Since making the move, “The Phenom” has only been defeated by Anderson Silva at 185-pounds.
His success at middleweight came under recent scrutiny when it was revealed that the 36-year-old Brazilian uses testosterone replacement therapy.
Athletes can request a therapeutic use exemption to use TRT, but what makes Belfort’s use more controversial than others who have been granted the exemption is that he tested positive to the banned substance 4-Hydroxytestosterone in 2006.
Having a previous positive test would rule out a therapeutic exemption by some athletic commissions, but he’s able to use TRT in his home country of Brazil.
Belfort asserts that he isn’t doing anything illegal.
“I don’t have much to talk about it. It’s the rules. I’m following the rules and it’s fight time. TRT doesn’t win fights. A lot of guys on TRT are losing fights,” he said during the UFC on FX 8 pre-fight press conference on Thursday. “It’s hard work. People that know me know how hard I work, and I’m just following the rules and doing everything legal.”
His UFC on FX 8 opponent, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, doesn’t agree with the use of TRT by any athlete, and definitely not by Belfort. But he’s stated that TRT isn’t an issue and he knew about Belfort’s use of it well before signing the bout agreement.
The topic has been brought up so often that Belfort has refused to field questions on the issue and says he’s just focused on the fight at hand.
“I’m focused on winning,” he said. “I definitely know I’m ready and focused on this fight.”
Rockhold says he’s done his homework on Belfort and knows what to expect when the Octagon door closes behind them on Saturday, but Belfort believes he has changed his fighting style and is ever evolving, making it difficult to know what to expect.
“Those who have known me for a long time and see me today have no idea about what I have changed,” said Belfort. “It’s as the bible says, a thousand years is as if it were a day. If you give me one day to improve, I’ll do that. What’s important in life is to grow, to be humble.
“We never really know what we can learn. We never know what we can’t learn, so I believe it has to be like a silent storm. That’s what a fight is. Right when we are in there, that’s when we will decide things,” he added.
“I’m ready and I’ve done everything that I can. Now I’ve crushed all the grapes and now I just need to drink the wine.”