Vitor Belfort Understands the Business of MMA, but Reminds Fighters to Remember Their Roots

September 17, 2012
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Vitor Belfort at UFC 126At just 19 years of age, Vitor Belfort made his UFC debut all the way back in 1997 when mixed martial arts was a much different sport.

The fledgling promotion only had a few years under its belt, and the UFC was still running one night tournaments in an open weight format to declare who truly was the “ultimate fighter.”

Belfort burst onto the scene and quickly picked up the nickname “The Phenom” for his lightning quick hands and ability to blast through much bigger and more experienced opponents.

Now, 15 years later, Belfort once again stands on the precipice of greatness with a chance to dethrone the new “phenom” in town, this time in the form of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

Belfort took the fight with Jones on just a few weeks notice and despite his training regimen geared towards a fight in October against a middleweight, the always game Brazilian didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“It was right away when I received the invitation,” Belfort told when asked how fast he accepted the fight with Jones. “I just saw it as great opportunity for my career. I said to Lorenzo (Fertitta) and Dana (White) that I was ready if they needed me, and then they requested me.”

It’s a fundamental change from the fighters that started in Belfort’s time in the early days of the UFC to the mentality nowadays where fight camps have developed into finely tuned machines.

While Belfort believes that proper training, health and business always have a place in MMA, he’s afraid the idea of a fighter just fighting has changed dramatically over the years.

“I believe the fight world became a little complicated and fighters today have this mentality that things run on their time. Can you imagine in my era, they just throw you a pair of gloves and put you in an open weight tournament. Today you need a strategy, a camp, based on the opponent that you fight, and this way they are never ready for short notice fights,” said Belfort.

Looking at the way the sport works today, Belfort sees comparisons between MMA and race car driving where the onus used to be on the driver to be more skilled, and now it’s about who has the better mechanic and design team for their car.

“I’m not denying that the level and the techniques have improved, but we have to be careful to not become like a Formula 1,” Belfort explained.

“In the beginning, it was the driver that was important. Today is the car and technology that wins the race. The driver is secondary in the process. Fighters have to be ready to fight any time. Of course the ones who are in a recovery process from an injury are an exception, and this is acceptable.”

At the end of the day, Belfort understands that fighters do this to make a living, pay bills, and provide for their children. So there is always going to be a business aspect to MMA, but Belfort is quick to point out that when it’s all said and done, a fighter fights and that’s his true business.

“I believe it is a balance,” Belfort stated.

“You cannot take away the business part because we make our living off of the fight but we need to have our roots in what we are: fighters!”

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  • Well said Mr. Belfort

    • drewmcfedries

      What a hypocrite!! Belfart would have us believe more of his child like BS. And I suppose we should use him as a model to honor our roots, just like he did with Carlson Gracie Sr.

      • Madmaax9


  • This viewpoint will unfortunately be lost as the generation that started and built MMA begins to retire.

  • MaritalArtist

    Good points by Vitor. I’d like to add that even without a training camp, the likes of Anderson, Jones, Chael, Condit, GSP, Cruz, Aldo, Frankie, can beat up just about anyone.

  • Man I want you as a fan! I don’t see an article without you in it repping what seems to be your favorite fighter.

    • soboc1

      CombatScience, you cant feed his ego, his mouth is full of Chris Weidmans nuts.

  • shaman

    Yes, Vitor, we all shed a tear watching our favorite local Toughman contest- but it’s a real sport, now

    Until the NFL starts bringing back Vince Papale’s, Apollo Creed’s start giving title shots to lucky bums from Philly, and the UFC starts dishing out 50 grand for 3 fights in one day, again… guys are going to be taking it seriously from now on. Sorry, buddy

    • Madmaax9

      So because he and some other fighters step in and fight when called upon, he’s not taking it seriously? It’s frustrating when you have these premadonnas out there are hand picking their fights nowadays. Jones not having enough time to prepare is a joke. The guy had a full training camp. Silva ducking Weidman who is clearly number one contender. Only reason he took the Bonner fight is to get people off he’s back.

  • Triggerman99

    WTF?! Are you lost?

  • onehitwonder

    i’m with you Madmaax9, maybe Jones should put a cute white picket fence around his belt with some pansies all around. or maybe put it in a bubble so no harm will come to it, that’s it, Bubble Belt.