One of the most legendary careers in MMA is coming to an end Sunday.
Vitor Belfort (26-13, 1 no-contest) announced his decision on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (h/t MMANYTT's Jim Edwards) that he will make his final walk to the cage at UFC Fight Night 124 in St. Louis at the Scottrade Center against No. 11-ranked middleweight contender Uriah Hall.
Belfort told UFC Unfiltered hosts Jim Norton and Matt Serra: "I think we got to know the time to start and I think we need to know the time to end."
The Phenom got his start in 1996 by defeating Jon Hess before making his now-legendary UFC debut at UFC 12 in February 1997. Belfort won the heavyweight tournament with two quick knockout performances that instantly made him a star in the sport.
"Life is about seasons, and I think you got to know the seasons. I think I did more than enough," said Belfort. "Sometimes I flash back and say, 'Wow, I'm still doing this. Wow, it's crazy.' And I'm very thankful, but I think my body needs a rest."
He certainly did more than enough. In more than two decades of professional action, Belfort competed in across the globe in most of the major MMA organizations. Belfort captured the UFC light heavyweight title in 2004 and fought for both the middleweight and light heavyweight belts against all-time greats Anderson Silva and Jon Jones.
Belfort is choosing to go out on his own terms and is content with the decision. The ex-champion said, "I'm going into the second journey of life, and I'm happy."
But his retirement fight will be no easy task. Belfort will seek to end his career in style in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 124 against one of the sport's most dynamic strikers in Hall. But a stoppage victory will move him past Silva for the record of most stoppages in UFC history (h/t MMAjunkie's Mike Bohn and Abbey Subhan).
The matchup should produce fireworks. If Belfort can bring The Phenom out just one more time, he may be able to ride off into the sunset by giving fans a throwback performance.