Resurrecting the Champ: Why a Rededicated Vitor Belfort Is Good For the UFC
With a fight against Sengoku middleweight champion, Jorge Santiago, coming up on August 1, we may ask ourselves where Belfort will go from here, since there may not be an Affliction 4, and since the promotion's hopes are probably banking on Trilogy.
Belfort will face Santiago on August 1 at Trilogy
The current Cage Rage lightheavyweight champion, I can't think that he would be content going back to a promotion of Cage Rage's calibre. I have to think that he has his eyes on bigger things, but if Belfort wants to make a comeback run at winning a major title, he will have to do it soon.
Born on April Fool's Day, the 32-year-old has had an up-and-down career, which started with a phenomenal start fighting for UFC where he knocked out Tra Telligman in his first bout with the promotion, and later becoming the first man to KO David "Tank" Abbot in 1997, making him 4-0.
Belfort TKO'ing Tank Abbot
He suffered a loss to future Hall of Fame member Randy Couture, losing by TKO eight minutes in, but came back with a brutal win over Wanderlei Silva, knocking him out in 44 seconds, the fastest anyone has ever finished The Axe Murderer. He left UFC in 1998 with a record of 5-1.
His PRIDE career started rocky, losing his debut to Sakuraba by unanimous decision, yet going on to defeat Gilbert Yvel to start off a four-fight winning streak, which included a win over Heath Herring in 2001. He left PRIDE in 2001 with a record of 4-1.
Coming back to UFC for UFC 37.5, he took on Chuck Liddell, and lost via unanimous decision, but then scored a TKO victory over Marvin Eastman, granting him a title shot against Randy Couture.
In a much-hyped match, Vitor Belfort obtained TKO win via cut over Randy Couture in just 49 seconds.
He became the Lightheavyweight Champion, but it left fans unhappy. In UFC 49: Unfinished Business, Couture bested Belfort, reclaiming his belt via doctor stoppage in the third round.
His final fight in UFC before leaving for PRIDE again was a close fight with perennial lightheavyweight contender Tito Ortiz, losing via split decision. He did not have much success during PRIDE's final years, losing to Alistair Overeem twice and finishing with a loss to Dan Henderson.
Taking a step down, he went to Cage Rage, where he became their Lightheavyweight Champion after two fights. He, apparently, realized that his speed and size would be better suited to middleweight, something he had not tried before.
As A Middleweight
Perhaps he should have tried years ago, because he KO'd Terry Martin in the second round on Affliction: Banned, and then followed that up at Affliction: Day of Reckoning by KO'ing Matt Lindland in 37 seconds, sending him to the hospital.
A win over Santiago would raise his stock considerably, as Santiago is already ranked No. 6 by Sherdog, and No. 8 by WAMMA. Dana White had already expressed interest in making Belfort-Anderson happen. After a Henderson rematch and Demian Maia, The Spider seems to be running low on contenders that will make him fight.
Belfort KO'ing Lindland at Day of Reckoning
White was quoted during a segment of Inside the Octagon that ran between The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale as saying "I'm working on some 185-pounders. Vitor Belfort, he's a heavyweight who moved down to 205. Now he’s at 185 pounds. He’s got great hands, he’s good on the ground, and if his head is right he can be a very dangerous guy."
White did a complete 180 regarding these comments on the Cofield and Cokin Show on ESPNRadio 1100, saying that he had no interest in Belfort. What can we draw from this?
- White is telling the truth, not having any interest in Belfort, and only wishing to create disharmony for his rivals.
- White did want Belfort, but tried to save face when it was revealed Belfort would not be leaving.
- White is suffering from lacunar amnesia.
Despite White's retraction of his comments, I would be surprised if we didn't see Belfort in UFC in the next year or two. The middleweight division of DREAM and Sengoku are under-developed as of 2009, and while Strikeforce would present numerous interesting middleweight match-ups—Cung Le, Nick Diaz, and Robbie Lawler would be dream match-ups—most ranked middleweights are signed to UFC, and Anderson Silva is running out of exciting opposition.
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