Vitor Belfort may have left his gloves in the Octagon following his last fight, but he has decided that he’s not quite done in the cage just yet.
Seven months after Lyoto Machida knocked Belfort out at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, the 41-year-old former UFC champion revealed that he is now a free agent and fielding offers to resume his career.
Though he was one of the most enigmatic fighters in UFC history, Belfort lost four of his last seven bouts in the Octagon (a fifth loss was later changed to a no contest). Following the loss to Machida, he left his gloves on the Octagon floor, signaling his retirement.
“Life is about beginning, middle, and end, and I think I come to the end, so congratulations to Machida and I’m leaving my gloves here,” Belfort said once he had regained his senses following the fight.
“So, I want to thank you all, my family; I’m all right. Lyoto had a great night. I think it’s time for me to take care of my family and my endeavors.”
Belfort, during an interview with Ariel Helwani for ESPN, indicated that while he does have many other business endeavors he is involved with, he wants to continue fighting.
“I like that, keep going, not stopping. That’s correct,” he said when Helwani asked him to confirm that he was intending to continue his career and not retire as had seemed to be the plan following his last UFC bout.
Belfort said since his last UFC bout, he has had surgery to remove a sizable bone spur that he had fought with for his last five fights.
“I just had some issues. I had a major surgery. I had a size of a golfball inside of my joints,” said Belfort, adding that it was located in his left shoulder, his power side.
Toward the end of his UFC tenure, Belfort had pushed for a legends league, potentially with modified rules that suited fighters that were aging and unable to fully compete with younger fighters in their prime years.
Though he fell short of saying that he was looking for somewhere that would implement such ideas, Belfort sounded as if he were looking for more of a business opportunity than another chance to simply step into the cage and throw down.
“I’m in business. I’m looking to bring value. I see that we need a change. I’m looking for an opportunity. I’m a fighter and an athlete, (I’m looking for) a place I can be a fighter and an athlete.”
Though he is now 41, Belfort doesn’t see his decision to continue fighting as the same situation as UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell, who recently returned from an eight-year layoff to fight at age 49 against Tito Ortiz. Liddell suffered a first-round knockout loss, the fourth consecutive such loss in his last four fights.
Belfort pointed out that Liddell’s return truly was a comeback, whereas he hasn’t even been sidelined for a year. He’s simply opting not to retire yet, instead looking for an opportunity to try and bring some new value to his career.
“I could not choose a better time for me to be a free agent because I really think the fans are screaming for something authentic, yet something new.“