In a word, Vitor Belfort is hot.
As of last night’s KO victory over Dan Henderson, “The Phenom” is now on a three fight winning streak and has a lot of wind in his sails. He has dispatched his last three opponents by KO or TKO and since his title match loss to Anderson Silva, back in 2011, Belfort has looked all but unstoppable, taking only one loss in six fights; Jon Jones at 205.
Further he appears to have become one of Dana White’s favorite fighters. As White said of Belfort’s performance last night, as he awarded Vitor his third consecutive KOTN in a row, “Holy s**t”. Further still, White was absolutely glowing in his praise of Belfort, saying that he’s a completely different fighter than he used to be, that he had accomplished something that no other fighter had achieved in 39 fights, which was knocking out Dan Henderson, and that he was “blown away” by Vitor’s performance.
In terms of what that means and where Belfort goes from here, the question was posed to the UFC’s President as to whether or not Belfort’s next fight would be for the middleweight title. In answering the question White at first obfuscated, stating that there are “Big things for Vitor Belfort, big things for Vitor Belfort.”
When asked to explain the statement, White remarked that Belfort could get either Lyoto Machida or a re-match with Anderson Silva. However, White stated that before any finalizations can be made, the Weidman / Silva re-match must first take place.
That said, White later addressed the question more specifically and stated that Belfort would be getting the winner of Weidman / Silva, and that the only thing that might prevent that from happening would be an injury. White stated that the only reason he was applying a caveat, was because “you never know what happens, here”.
In terms of where the fight might take place, the question was put to White as to whether or not it could happen in Las Vegas or was “Sin City” of the table, due to Belfort’s current use of testosterone therapy, and his previous drug infractions.
In response, White leapt to Belfort’s defense, harangued the question, and set the record straight, stating:
“The people who want him to fight in the United States talk a lot of s**t, don’t they? They talk s**t, but they want to see Vitor in the United States. Vitor can fight in the United States, now. There’s no reason why he couldn’t fight in Las Vegas no matter what Keith Kizer says. He should be allowed to fight in Las Vegas; it’s ridiculous. And as far as the rest of the country goes, Vitor can fight anywhere in the US, but he’s in Brazil and you understand why he’s in Brazil.
Anderson is going to fight Chris Weidman on December 28th in Las Vegas and it is going to be the biggest fight we’ve ever done. That gate is already at like 5.6 million dollars and the pay-per-view is going to be huge and it’s going to be a massive event. And whoever wins, yes, is going to fight Vitor Belfort, unless something crazy happens and somebody gets hurt.”
In synopsis and according to White, Belfort will get his title fight and if the UFC decides that it’s best to have the match in the States, then there is nothing baring Belfort from fighting in the US, and if the bout can’t happen in Vegas, because Keith Kizer won’t sanction it, then the promotion can just as easily put the fight on in another state.
Either way, it appears that the rumors and myths, which have swirled around Belfort for years, that he is / was disfavored by Dana White, or that the promotion has been hiding him away in Brazil, or that he’d never get another title shot or a re-match with Anderson Silva, are all just that, rumors and myths.
In conclusion and barring any unforeseen injuries, it is reasonable for fans to expect to see Belfort take on the winner of Weidman / Silva sometime in the late spring or early summer. Surely, for fans of both Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort this will place them on the horns of a dilemma. Yes, they’d like to see the champ retain his belt and a fight between Weidman and Belfort would be great, but so too would be a re-match title fight between Anderson Silva and Belfort.
Truly, fans of both fighters will be torn on what outcome they’d prefer.