Following another amazing head-kick knockout at Saturday's UFC on FX 8 in Brazil, the resurging lion (or is it T-rex?) that is Vitor Belfort had to know the question that was lingering on the minds of MMA fans and media members:
How big of a factor has testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) played into the 36-year-old former champ's recent success?
It's a fair question to ask considering the current climate of performance enhancing drugs in today's sports world. However, it's a question "The Phenom" would really prefer not to answer (just ask MMA Junkie's John Morgan).
Politics aside, it's clear that TRT has enabled Belfort to continue training—and thus succeeding—at the highest level. But to assert that it is the only contributing factor to the Brazilian's career renaissance is preposterous.
The fact is, raising your testosterone levels may give you an extra boost in the gym, but it can't teach you how to do a spinning wheel kick.
The real key to Belfort's recent success, in my opinion, has more to do with his new alliance with the Blackzilians than his usage of TRT.
Since joining the Florida-based team last August, "The Phenom" has gone 2-1, highlighted by two Knockout of the Night head-kick finishes. In addition, Belfort almost stole the light heavyweight title when he nearly armbarred Jon Jones in the first round at UFC 152.
Utilizing a more diverse set of attacks inside the Octagon, Belfort's recent performances are proof of his technical evolution.
Gone are the Brazilian's wild days where he'd swarm and try to overwhelm his opponents with punches.
While the power and speed are still there, Belfort is more patient in the pursuit of his foes and now looks to set up his attacks in more creative ways—a strategy I'm sure he picked up from his Blackzilian teammates.
Revisiting Saturday's main event bout against Luke Rockhold, Belfort's spinning wheel kick was not a wild strike that landed due to pure luck. Instead, it was a well-calculated and unexpected technique that "The Phenom" set up perfectly. Belfort may have missed with his first spin-kick attempt earlier in the opening frame, but it helped him gauge his distance with the former Strikeforce champ.
From there, the Brazilian used a more reserved combination of punches to open up Rockhold as well as make him forget about the threat of his kicks. When Belfort finally unleashed his wheel kick from hell, in Rockhold's mind, it seemingly came out of nowhere.
The ex-Strikeforce champ was also holding his hands down throughout the fight, a costly mistake that Belfort capitalized on in a huge way.
I'm not saying that TRT hasn't helped "The Phenom" remain at the pinnacle of the sport, but you have to give the guy credit for continuing to refine his technique while simultaneously adding to his arsenal.
I guess you can teach an old dinosaur new tricks.