Vitor Belfort’s Message to Anthony Johnson: That Cage Belongs to Me

January 12, 2012
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When Vitor Belfort got the call from the UFC that he would be fighting in his native Brazil, he was obviously excited.

But the excitement soon turned to anticipation because Belfort then only wanted to know one thing. Who was he fighting?

The name Anthony Johnson came across the telephone, and without hesitation, like any other fight before, Belfort said yes. To some it may have been an odd choice because Johnson has spent his entire UFC career fighting at welterweight.

Belfort on the other hand trusted the UFC’s judgment and knew that if Johnson was their choice for the fight, then he’d prepare for him accordingly.

“I’m not a picky fighter like ‘oh no I don’t want this.’ I think of it like this, I’ve been in this sport for so long, I know so many managers, promoters, fighters, they have a way to do business. I do business like this… God is my manager, God is my everything. If somebody is trying to do something with me, that’s bad for me, I cannot stop it. I can control my intentions, to work for the UFC,” Belfort told MMAWeekly Radio recently.

“If they think this is a good fight to the UFC, then it’s a good fight for Vitor.”

As soon as Belfort got the news about who his opponent would be, he started training like any other fight camp. There was no lacking in his preparation simply because Johnson hadn’t ever competed at middleweight before.

Belfort learned long ago that you respect every opponent like they are the greatest champion to set foot in the cage, and if your training follows suit, you’ll do just fine in the fight.

When breaking down the fight, Belfort watched plenty of footage on Johnson and didn’t notice too many holes in his game. Well, maybe one hole that he could expose on Jan. 14 at UFC Rio.

“I don’t know if his jiu-jitsu is that great,” said Belfort. “I plan to take him down too, that will be one of the plans on the ground. He doesn’t have very solid jiu-jitsu, but he’s a pretty tough wrestler. He likes to kick, he likes to trade, so we’ll see. It’s going to be a great match-up.

“Let’s see how he’s going to act when the action begins.”

Regardless of how Belfort feels about Johnson’s jiu-jitsu skills, he still understands that the former welterweight is a dangerous opponent who comes into this fight with nothing to lose. He’s fighting at a new weight class, against a former champion in his home country, so Johnson just gets to relax and fight his fight.

Don’t think that Belfort is looking past Johnson however. He sees Johnson no different than Anderson Silva, Yoshihiro Akiyama, or Rich Franklin. A dangerous opponent who has to be respected in the Octagon.

“I don’t take things easy. I don’t underestimate anyone. He’s strong, he has skills, the best way to respect him, to show him respect, (is that) I’m focused,” said Belfort.

“He’s a lion, but I’m a lion, and when we get there I’m going to roar. I’m going to roar on that day. I respect him, but on that day the cage belongs to me so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to earn it.”

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  • TKD

    “the cage belongs to me”…

    Someone should have told Vitor that when Silva was kicking his teeth down his throat!

    • bbtakayama

      I think he meant if him or Johnson were bidding on the cage, Vitor would outbid him and end up owning it. Johnson would just have to rent a small space. The cage technically belongs to Zuffa. Dana White better make sure Vitor isn’t trying to sneak off with their equipment.

      • MikeMc1983

        Well, Vitor is Latino…

  • fitefan

    It will be nice to see this guy use some of his Jujitsu finally. He’s got wicked fast hands, but as a BJJ guy turned striker he seems to be missing some of the basics, like good foot and head movement. Everyone needs to just watch tapes of Edgar.

    And Johnson competing at WW is no big deal. He has to cut to get down to 170, and I recall Rogan saying Johnson has competed much heavier in the past.

  • Ive heard Johnson has cut from as much as 232lbs when he was fighting as a welteler wt. His typical cut was from 220-230 e said on MMA Weekly .Even as a middle this guys a monster-great reach, excellent wrestling, and his strikings on point. This should be a great fight

  • KBEsq

    Yeah, when Johnson was coming up, I thought of him as a Jon Jones of the WWD. Unfortunately, he fell on some tough losses. I still think he has some of the best potential in the UFC right now, and I’m very excited to see him at MW. He said on the countdown that the extra 15 pounds is huge for his endurance and I believe him.

    Either way, I LOVE this fight, and was very excited when it was announced. Huge test for both fighters, and whomever wins will have some serious bragging rights.

    When you combine great wrestling with explosive stand-up and the ability to cut from 220-230, you have a very interesting MW contender.

  • I’m just glad Vitor hasn’t come up lame and had to pull out of the fight. I cringe every time I see a new article posted with his picture or name in it.

  • bbtakayama

    This should be a great fight, Anthony Johnson has been in the cage with some amazing fighters, and knocked out some of the best in the world. (Kevin Burns, Tom Speer, Charlie Brenneman just to name a few.) He might be on the path to getting a title… Luke Rckhold did say he wanted to fight some of the UFC guys.

    • MuayThaiFood

      He’s never defeated God though. BAM!

  • notasSmartasIthink

    If Belfort can start strong like in the past i believe he will get another spectacular knock out, but if Johnson can weather the early storm that is Belfort’s fists, he has the hand skills to take it to Vitor anytime of the day, but it will only work, if he doesn’t get caught early.