Throughout the course of his 16-plus-year fight career, Vitor Belfort has seen pretty much all the ups and downs any fighter could see in the sport of MMA.
He’s been a champion and a challenger, a top contender, and a fighter on the outside looking in just trying to find his place in a promotion.
Despite his greatest successes, however, Belfort has continuously been plagued by some of his biggest downfalls with most pointing towards his mental game as the part that fails him each and every time.
As naturally gifted as any fighter in MMA history, Belfort has been accused of not being able to keep his mind right before and many times during a battle.
“That is the main criticism of Vitor, and I think it’s a valid criticism to be honest,” said Belfort’s next opponent, Michael Bisping, when speaking about his perceived mental weakness in fights.
“I’m not saying he’s a bully, but he shows some characteristics of a bully sometimes cause when the fight is going his way, Vitor’s phenomenal. But when the opponent takes what Vitor can dish, gets through those tricky situations, and starts turning the fight around, Vitor crumbles mentally. Mentally or physically and he starts looking for a way out.”
Bisping has done a lot of studying on Belfort over the last couple of months as he prepared for their fight at UFC on FX 7, which takes place this weekend in Brazil.
Time and time again, Bisping sees where Belfort has faded in a fight, or just not looked mentally ready for what was about to take place. Most recently Bisping saw that tendency when Belfort took on UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in a short notice fight at UFC 152.
Belfort grabbed an early armbar that nearly submitted the champion, but after that it was all Jones until he finally ended the fight with a keylock submission in the fourth round. Bisping says, watching the fight, he knew Belfort wanted out so he gave Jones the option to finish it.
“I think the Jon Jones fight was a perfect example of that. I watched the fight just last night and again he was looking for a way out. He gave Jones that submission because he was beaten mentally and he wanted out of it,” said Bisping.
Bisping believes that’s just who Vitor Belfort is and always has been, and with 16 years already into his fight career, he doesn’t look for that to change any time soon.
“Vitor Belfort has the body of a lion, but unfortunately he has the heart of a chicken, and I’m going to expose that when I go down to Brazil. A lot of people will give up, too much of a long road, too much of a struggle, and they’ll take an easy route. Vitor Belfort is a hell of a fighter, he’s a legend, he’s been a world champion in the past. I’m looking at him as a great warm-up fight to Anderson Silva,” said Bisping.
“I’m sure I’m going to have to weather an initial storm, but as the fight goes on he’s going start second guessing himself, he’s going to be gassed, and he’s going to turn into a walking punching bag.”
If there’s one undeniable trait that Bisping knows separates him from Belfort it’s that – the way they approach a fight and deal with adversity in their mental game. Bisping has been beaten and he’s dealt with losses before, but he’s not going to give up or give in, but he knows Belfort will.
“That’s something that will never, ever happen to me,” Bisping stated. “I’ll fight tooth and nail to the very end, as long as there is a beat in my heart I will never give up.”