After appearing before the Nevada State Athletic Commission seeking re-licensure to compete following a failed drug test, Vitor Belfort has been approved for a conditional license to return to mixed martial arts. The hearing was aired live on UFC Fight Pass.
The conditions of his license were threefold: He will submit to random enhanced drug testing at the NSAC's discretion, he will only fight in Nevada upon his return, and his return will not come before December 2014.
Do you agree with the NSAC's ruling?
Belfort has been one of mixed martial arts' most controversial fighters since rumors began swirling regarding his use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
TRT, functionally, allows users to take steroids with a doctor's supervision. While the treatment itself was controversial, Belfort's use was particularly contentious, given his 2006 drug test failure for the anabolic steroid 4-hydroxytestosterone (which some speculated was likely the cause of any deficiencies in his body's natural testosterone production).
While Belfort was using TRT, his musculature visibly grew, which led many fans and media members to believe he was abusing the treatment.
UFC President Dana White repeatedly insisted that fighters on TRT were being regularly tested to assure they were not misusing it, but Belfort failed a February random drug test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for elevated levels of testosterone while attending the 2014 World MMA Awards.
Belfort blamed the failed drug test on taking a larger dose of TRT ahead of traveling to the United States:
"now that he won't face significant punishment for a failed drug test, WE'RE ANNOUNCING VITOR FIGHTING FOR THE TITLE" - This sport, really— Brent Brookhouse (@brentbrookhouse) July 23, 2014
The results were unknown for several months due to NSAC regulation, with White dismissing the test as "absolutely irrelevant" regardless of the results. But when Belfort began seeking a license for a UFC 175 bout with Chael Sonnen, he admitted to failing the test for elevated levels of testosterone.
In spite of claims that the test didn't matter, Belfort's history of failing drug tests was expected to prove troublesome in his pursuit of a license to compete from American athletic commissions.
During the hearing, Belfort's lawyer acknowledged that the UFC was targeting a Dec. 6 return for Belfort opposite UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Dec. 6 is the date of UFC 181, which likely means a Weidman vs. Belfort middleweight title fight will serve as the main event for the card.
Following the hearing, the UFC officially announced Weidman vs. Belfort for UFC 181. UFC Senior Director of Public Relations Dave Sholler made the announcement on Twitter:
Just released to press: Weidman-Belfort title fight is a go for Dec. 6 @MandalayBay.— Dave Sholler (@Sholler_UFC) July 23, 2014