Vitor Belfort Officially Retires After 21 Years
Depending on how long you have been around the sport of mixed martial arts. A fighter such as Vitor Belfort could represent a number of things. To some, he could the ferocious young Phenom from Brazil. Who while still a teenager, was fighting much larger men in the now-defunct open weight divisions of the UFC.
Taking on and defeating guys who were meant to destroy the young upstart. Fighters like Scott ‘The Pitbull’ Ferrozzo and David ‘Tank’ Abbot. Men who held the upper hand in terms of sheer size and power. But who could not handle the speed and ferociousness Belfort’s onslaught would bring.
Vitor would hold the upper hand throughout much of his early career. Stopping most of his opponents with strikes. It wasn’t until he came up the very best of the best, that Belfort would taste defeat. First falling foul of UFC Hall of Famer Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture at UFC 15.
More wins including a 44 second TKO of Wanderlei Silva and a move to Pride Fighting Championships. Was quickly followed by a loss to Pride legend Kazushi Sakuraba. Belfort’s next 5 fights in Pride were all wins. Before he once again made his return to the UFC.
Return to the UFC
In 2002, Vitor took on fan favourite Chuck Liddell, losing via unanimous decision. Over the next few years he would go on to see unbelievable highs in winning the UFC light heavyweight title. And lows, losing the belt just nine months later.
Belfort’s sister Priscila went missing in 2004. With her friend finally admitting in August 2007, to her kidnap and murder. It was a time in someone’s life no one should have to go through. And no doubt played a huge negative role in Vitor’s life and career.
Throughout the period from 2007, right up to 2015, Vitor would only lose in title fights. First to former teammate Anderson Silva for the middleweight belt. Then to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 152. And then again at UFC 187, against Chris Weidman and another shot at middleweight gold.
Belfort’s Suspension for TRT
You cannot write about the career of Vitor Belfort, without mentioning his suspension for use of testosterone. And the many subsequent accusations of cheating throughout his career. But in a sport such an MMA, where now so many of our great fighters have been shown or been suspected of cheating. Let him without sin cast the first stone.
There can be little doubting Vitor’s standing in a mixed martial arts Hall of Fame. And with that the UFC Hall of Fame. Through all the trials and tribulations, he has been there almost from the very start.
21 years at the top in such a brutal and unforgiving sport. 21 years of always being there or thereabouts. It’s a feat very few will ever achieve in any realm of professional competition. They called him The Phenom when he burst on to the scene all those many years ago. And The Phenom he will remain.
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