Here’s a question for you: Does anybody know what is happening with Vitor Belfort?
It has been two months since the Nevada Athletic Commission voted to ban exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy. A day later, Belfort pulled out of his planned UFC 173 title fight against Chris Weidman. According to a report by Matt Erickson on MMAJunkie.com, Belfort released a statement saying that he didn’t have time to acclimate his body to a world without TRT:
The Nevada State Athletic Commission recently altered its policy and no longer will permit testosterone use exemptions, and will not permit a TRT program. As other jurisdictions may follow suit, I am going to drop my TRT program and compete in MMA without it. Given the time constraints involved between now and my proposed next bout in May, I have determined not to apply for a license to fight in Nevada at this time.
Since that day, Belfort has been mostly quiet. He was replaced in the fight by Lyoto Machida. The fight was then moved to UFC 175 in July after Weidman suffered an injury. UFC President Dana White curiously blamed the media for Belfort’s withdrawal from the fight during a media session prior to UFC 171, as reported by Trent Reinsmith for Bloody Elbow:
At the end of the day the media got what they wanted. The media got what they wanted. He's banned. He's not fighting Chris Weidman, and the media got what they wanted. They wanted no Chris Weidman fight with Vitor.
This is silly, of course. Yes, TRT was a hot-button topic with the media. But White himself railed against TRT and said he was happy with the NAC’s decision to ban it. His finger-pointing at the media is complete nonsense. The media did not force the NAC to make their decision. It was made because TRT is essentially legalized cheating. It was a controversy that continued to grow, and it wasn’t going away.
Belfort remained silent on the subject until this week, when he spoke to MMAFighting.com. Belfort claimed that, with the fight being moved to July, he should be given the opportunity he gave up when it was originally scheduled for May:
I did all the tests that Nevada requires. I did it on my own, and I passed them all. There is nothing in my system anymore. God has blessed me. I'm ready now, and I'm waiting. Since they canceled (Weidman vs. Machida) in May, there is nothing else to do. Give me what is mine.
This is a curious thing. Belfort was randomly tested when he came to Las Vegas in February for the World Mixed Martial Arts awards show. He did not have a license to fight in Nevada, but the state will test fighters who have upcoming bouts scheduled in the state. Belfort was supposed to fight Weidman, and so he was tested.
It is likely we will never know the results of that test. Because he didn’t have a current license, the commission couldn’t make the results public without Belfort’s permission. Belfort elected not to make the results public, and that created even more controversy. If the results proved that he stayed within the limits of TRT usage, why not give them to the public? It would clear his name to an extent. It would quiet the critics.
Instead, Belfort’s lawyer called the results “not relevant.” The questions continued.
When asked during a UFC 172 post-fight scrum about Belfort’s request to be placed back in the title fight, White essentially laughed him off:
He's gotta solve his problems with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and when he does that, we'll figure it out. He's got a lot of work to do. That [expletive] just doesn't happen like that. You've got to get on the agenda. He's got a lot of work to do. He's fooling himself if that's what he really thinks, he took a couple of home tests and he's ready to roll. Or whatever he did.
White is right. Belfort said he passed all of the tests Nevada requires, but then said he did them on his own. That’s not enough. He still doesn’t have a license to fight in the state, and he’ll have to go before the commission in order to obtain one.
It’s a mystery. Belfort says he’s clean and good to go. White says Belfort has “problems” with the commission that have to be cleared up before he can fight again. We have two very different stories, and nobody is able to tell us what is true and what is not.
Dan Henderson was also a TRT user. He received the final exemption for UFC fighters for his March bout against Mauricio Rua. One would think Henderson might need the same kind of time as Belfort to adapt his body to life without testosterone. And yet, he is scheduled to face Daniel Cormier next month at UFC 173 in Nevada, the same event Belfort was scheduled for.
Henderson had less than two months to wean himself off TRT; Belfort had three. Why was Henderson able to get off TRT and compete with a short turnaround, while Belfort couldn’t do it with more time? Henderson is 43; Belfort is 37.
We have many questions, but no answers. We may never be privy to the truth, and that's unfortunate.