Belfort returns to the UFC
Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
Photo by Chris Cozzone
Vitor Belfort is a man of few words.
For a journalist searching for the story, this is a bad thing. For a hapless opponent, this is a very good thing.
In January, a resurgent Belfort faced Matt Lindland at the now defunct Affliction promotion’s second (and final) MMA event. Less than a minute into the round, “The Phenom” overwhelmed “The Law,” flooring Lindland with a single punch. An aggressive Belfort pounced, catching his downed opponent with two more flush shots.
Then it all stopped.
Before the referee could step in to save Lindland from further damage, Belfort stopped punching, motioned toward the official and uttered, “He’s out.”
While most fighters would’ve abided by the unspoken mantra to keep going until the fight is officially stops, Belfort abides by the golden rule: do to others what you would like done to you.
“I’m a sportsman,” Belfort says of the Lindland fight. “I care about my opponents. Most of them are my friends and I’m not [here] to hurt people. I’m [here] to fight.”
As if on cue, the man who has been finished just twice due to strikes adds, “One day you can be knocking people out and the next you can be knocked out. I’d rather treat people with respect.”
The irony of Belfort’s statement is that the man responsible for those two TKO blemishes on his record owns the gym he now calls home—Randy Couture.
Overlooking the UFC 49: Unfinished Business poster—, which featured the third bout between Belfort and Couture—the relative newcomer to the Xtreme Couture family explains that it is not difficult to take direction from an old adversary.
“Couture is a very good friend and it’s very good to be here,” he says of the new environment. “It’s nothing personal, we’re professionals.”
Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (18-8, 7-4 UFC) is a fighter’s fighter. In addition to three bouts with Randy Couture, Belfort’s first UFC run also included bouts with Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. He holds Octagon victories over Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Marvin Eastman, and Tank Abbott.
Despite an impressive resume, Belfort’s second stint in the world’s biggest MMA promotion will likely be his first introduction to the casual fan. The 32-year-old Brazilian’s last go round in the Octagon came in 2005, in a disappointing unanimous decision loss to the aforementioned Ortiz.
Belfort will ride a four-fight win streak into Saturday night’s UFC 103 headlining bout against former middleweight champion Rich “Ace” Franklin. With the fight coming at a 195-pound catch weight, the match is likely lacking title implications for both men.
According to Belfort, that’s not a problem.
“Let’s go for it,” Vitor says when asked about the Franklin fight. “If this is what they want. We’re there to please the fans.”
Belfort remains relatively tight lipped about the man who will be staring back at him in the night’s main event. His short answers reveal a focused “Phenom” simply ready to take care of business.
“Franklin is a very tough opponent. I know he’s going to bring his best. It’s going to be a great match.”