Vitor Belfort may be one of the most prominent figures in the debate over performance enhancing drugs, and particularly the previous legal use of testosterone replacement therapy, but the Nevada Athletic Commission on Monday approved his license to fight Chris Weidman at UFC 187 on May 23 in Las Vegas.
The two have been scheduled to fight several times in the past, but have yet to make it all the way to the Octagon. Clearing the licensing hurdle is a huge step towards making it a reality.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion and heavyweight tournament winner went before the NAC on Monday to explain why, after having tested positive for steroids and elevated levels of testosterone in the past, he should be allowed to fight.
The second failure came during a period of change for the industry, as Nevada ended its previous policy of allowing therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy.
An employer of TRT, Belfort has been the lightening rod for the controversy over whether TUEs for its use constituted “legal cheating” or not.
Now that TRT has been nixed industry-wide and the focus is on dropping a heavier hand on performance-enhancing drug use, Belfort had to jump through numerous hoops – in the form a multiple drug tests – to get a shot at returning to the Octagon. He hasn’t fought since November of 2013.
According to Nevada’s commission chair Francisco Aguilar, Belfort has undergone five drug tests since the state stopped TRT exemptions and has passed them all.
Belfort said that it was difficult ending the therapy, but learned how to cope without TRT by staying mentally strong and committed.
After a few questions from the commissioners at Monday’s hearing in Las Vegas, Belfort’s request for a fight license was approved.
He will now challenge Weidman for the middleweight championship at UFC 187.