Vitor Belfort may be riding a five-fight winning streak heading into his challenge of UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva next Saturday at UFC 126 in Las Vegas, but he’s also carrying the baggage of a year-and-a-half long layoff with him.
One of Belfort’s main weapons in the ring is striking ability. The explosive speed of his hands is something that was evident early on in his career. Anyone that witnessed his 44-second destruction of Wanderlei Silva at UFC Brazil more than a decade ago would vouch for that.
That’s why, try as he might, he couldn’t continue to fight through a serious shoulder injury that would hamper one of the most effective weapons in his arsenal.
“It was a labrum tear. The tear was very big. I fought my last fight (against Rich Franklin) with the tear, so I think the tear started getting bigger and bigger until I couldn’t perform the training anymore,” Belfort explained on Thursday.
“The healing process for the shoulder, it’s a long time, so that’s why I was out for this long period.
It is what it is. I did surgery on my shoulder and now it’s a hundred percent, thanks God.”
Belfort realizes that he’ll need all 100 percent at his disposal come fight night, considering the caliber of his opposition.
“(Silva) prove himself as a champion, and he can pass through tribulation and he can overcome, so I have to be prepared and ready for any type of position that we come to in the fight,” said Belfort.
But he sees his injury as just one more thing in his life that makes him stronger. Gone are the days of his youth, soaking in the pressures placed on his shoulders. Belfort now embraces the obstacles before him and uses them to his advantage.
“I try to deal with the things that I have to deal with,” he said, recounting his struggles. “The way I look at that point, one year and a half, every time that I’m out of my job as a fighter, I try to improve everything else in my life, so I try to avoid that gap. The only way to find out if it’s going to be effective or not (is) when you step in the ring.
“I try to take good things, bad things, and put them together to use as a fighter to make me strong. That’s the way in my life.”