The UFC Hall of Fame selection process is not exactly transparent. No one, other than the powers that be, know what the criteria for inclusion are. With the selection process shrouded in mystery, we can only give our opinions about fighters who are deserving of the nod.
So, is Vitor Belfort worthy of induction or not?
For my money it is a resounding “yes”.
On performance alone, he may come close to earning the distinction of being a hall of fame inductee, but it is no lock.
Belfort is the UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament Champion and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Although, an asterisk should be placed on the latter achievement. The bout between Belfort and Couture was halted when then champion Randy Couture had his eyelid sliced by the glove of Belfort and the doctor stopped the bout.
His other claim to fame was the blitzkrieg victory over Wanderlei Silva at UFC Brazil in 1998.
Prior to dropping to middleweight in 2008, his resume was light on wins against top tier opponents.
Aside from his quick victories over Silva and Couture, his most notable victories are over Tank Abbot, Gilert Yvel, and Heath Herring. He dropped bouts to Couture twice, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Alistair Overeem twice, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Dan Henderson.
That will not write his ticket to the UFC Hall of Fame.
So, why do I still put him in that category?
Because Belfort has evolved with the sport and remained one of the best fighters for over a decade. Dropping to middleweight assisted his spot in the hierarchy of the sport.
Not many have been able to retain success for that length of time.
Since dropping to 185 pounds, he has only lost once, when he got front kicked in the face by Anderson Silva. And his quality of wins at middleweight, and catch weight bouts as well, since that time has risen.
Belfort has found some sort of success across three divisions. Again, a task many have not been able to accomplish in the sport. While a signature title win has alluded him it does not define his career.
He has fought all over the world, in the largest promotions on the planet, and has continued to be one of the most dangerous fighters in the world for over 15 years.
A spot in the UFC Hall of Fame should not be measured in championships alone. Nor should it be measured by his UFC record alone. After all, they do now own several promotions' rights and video libraries. The UFC Hall of Fame should include fighters from PRIDE and elsewhere, or at least include the accomplishments acquired there of their contracted fighters.
What Belfort has been able to showcase in his career has been impressive, and he has given the fans years of exciting action.
When Belfort goes back to 205 to challenge Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, it will be his fifth UFC championship bout. He will enter as a heavy underdog. A win would cement his legacy in the sport. It would be a feather in his cap, but the long time mixed martial artist should not need it to enter the UFC Hall of Fame.
His long, successful career earns him that right.