White: Vitor Belfort Able to Fight in Las Vegas but Commission Decides TRT Issue

Duane FinleyContributor IAugust 18, 2013

There has been a lot of buzz lately surrounding what's next for Vitor Belfort.

The Brazilian knockout artist's name has been attached to multiple matchups over the past several weeks with potential bouts against Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida and Nick Diaz all being passed through the rumor mill.

On Saturday night, following Chael Sonnen's impressive victory over Shogun Rua at UFC Fight Night 26, the "Phenom" added another option to the list by calling out the former middleweight title challenger via Twitter.

While the idea of a matchup between Belfort and Sonnen floated around the post-fight press conference and media scrum on multiple occasions, Saturday night was not the first time the matter has been addressed.

At the post-fight press conference in Boston, the "Gangster from West Linn" told the media that the 36-year-old Team Blackzilians fighter has turned down the opportunity to face him numerous times. While Belfort has said he wants the matchup, the showdown has never materialized.

Prior to Saturday night, the most recent interaction between the two fighters came on July 30 when Ariel Helwani reported on Fuel TV's UFC Tonight that Belfort was interested in facing Sonnen.

In response, the Oregon native took off his analyst hat for a moment to address the possibility of a fight with the former light heavyweight champion. He not only accepted Belfort's challenge but provided a date and a location, suggesting they square off at UFC 168 in Las Vegas on Dec. 28. 

This is where things get interesting where Belfort is concerned.

The current middleweight contender has been on one of the best runs of his career as of late, picking up back-to-back knockout victories over top competitors Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold. While his performance inside the cage garnered headlines, his highlight-reel finishes were not the only things about his fights that were newsworthy.

Following his win over Bisping in Brazil, it was revealed the former title challenger had been approved for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) by the Brazilian athletic commission. With his past infractions for steroid use, Belfort would unlikely receive a therapeutic usage exemption (TUE) when competing in the United States.

This scenario has created the idea that he will only compete in Brazil, and the UFC is doing its part by "hiding" him there. 

UFC president Dana White has addressed the issue before, but on Saturday night, with Belfort's challenge to Sonnen still fresh, White once again talked about Belfort fighting in Brazil. He also informed the media in attendance that there is nothing stopping the former No. 1 light heavyweight contender from competing in Las Vegas. Furthermore, whether or not a TUE will be granted is up to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

"They say Vitor can't fight here and that is complete bullsh**," White said. "Vitor Belfort can fight here, he can fight in Vegas or any of these places. It's not a given that he has to give up the treatment when he's in Vegas. The guy has been busted before. He's had some issues, and he's going to have to go before the athletic commission and they will decide what they are going to do.

"That doesn't mean that he can't fight in Vegas or that Vitor Belfort is banned from Vegas and something crazy is going to happen. Or that we're hiding him in Brazil because he's on TRT. That is stupid Internet sh**. Vitor Belfort is a big draw in Brazil so he fights in Brazil."

While Belfort generated conversation on Saturday night with his Twitter challenge to Sonnen (the tweets have since been deleted), the UFC head honcho was far from committal on putting the matchup together. Nevertheless, Belfort still remains without an opponent for the time being, and with nothing falling easily into place, it will be interesting to see what the next step will be.


Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.