Brazilian-born Vitor Belfort has been a professional mixed martial arts fighter for a long, long time, making his debut in 1996 with a 12-second knockout of Jon Hess at Superbrawl 2 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Belfort’s next fight was with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, capturing the Heavyweight Tournament crown at UFC 12.
Belfort would eventually go on to win the UFC light heavyweight title, defeating Randy Couture at UFC 46, but his reign would be short, as he lost the title back to “The Natural” at UFC 49.
Belfort’s time as a UFC champion lasted from January 31, 2004 to August 2004.
On Saturday, Belfort will get another shot at a UFC belt when he meets middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 126. Belfort is on a five-fight winning streak coming into the bout, but he has not fought since September 2009 due to a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair.
Belfort is almost philosophical when discussing how he chooses to live his life. “I’m just a man who seeks God every day,” Belfort said during a recent media call. “I don’t consider myself a smart guy. I just seek knowledge of God. I don’t consider myself a religious person because I think religion is a counterfeit for a relationship with God so, I love Jesus, so I try and have his character in my life and try and live with the principles that he taught and that’s it.”
How Belfort came to his current mindset is a harrowing tale.
Just weeks before Belfort won the UFC title, he found out that his sister, Priscilla Belfort, had been kidnapped in Brazil. She went missing on January 8th after being dropped off for work by her mother.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the last person to see Priscilla alive was a custodian at her job, who saw her leave for lunch.
The family has heard horrifying rumors of what happened to Priscilla in the slums of Brazil, but her body was never recovered.
“We have words for if you’ve lost your husband, you’re a widow; if you’ve lost your parent, you’re an orphan; but if you lost your child, they don’t have a name for that. That’s so painful that they don’t have a name for that,” Belfort recently told The Christian Post.
Through the pain of his loss, Belfort found God. “I think there is two ways to get to God, through love or through pain. Mine was through pain,” Belfort said.
Through prayer Belfort recalled hearing the voice of God, telling him, "Son, it doesn’t matter how you look, how you think about your life, your sister belonged to me.”
“I can see now that through that tribulation, I’m a new man. I’m a strong man. I’ve matured,” Belfort said. “I’m not perfect. I still struggle with many things, but it’s a process. I’m in the middle of the process and every day I try and prove myself so I can fight through that process, which never ends.”