September 18, 2009

by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com

It’s been
more than four years since Vitor Belfort stepped foot in the Octagon, and by
all indicators, he’s a new man coming into his bout with Rich Franklin at UFC


Belfort has
found a stable camp in Xtreme Couture, dropped weight, and found the explosiveness
that marked his early career.


Outside the
cage, he is similarly focused.


identity is not in the fighting,” he said. “Some
people…everything’s about the belt and the performance. My identity is I have
God and God is deciding which path I’m going to take. And I know this is not
going to take forever; it’s just a short moment in life.”


Saturday, Belfort meets Franklin at 195 pounds, the weight Franklin last fought
at and one Belfort reportedly requested.


At open
workouts, Belfort hesitated to make any proclamations of what would happen
during the fight. Like the fans, he was excited to see what Franklin brought to
the table.


pointed to Franklin’s weakness in the clinch, citing two losses to Belfort’s
former training partner, middleweight champion Anderson Silva, but “The Phenom”
said he wouldn’t bank on one position.


“You gotta
wait and see,” said Belfort. “For sure, (I’m) trying to work his weakness. For
sure, it’s been shown Rich doesn’t like the clinch, the Muay Thai clinch, but
we’ve gotta wait and see how it’s gonna work, how the fight’s going to end up.”


Franklin, Belfort will head back to middleweight, where his speed and
explosiveness flourish. But even with ten extra pounds, Belfort felt confident
he’d bring his best.


“I can’t
wait to step into the Octagon and perform the best I can,” he said.


(Click here to watch
Vitor Belfort’s UFC 103 pre-fight video interview.)