You didn’t really believe that Vitor Belfort was retired.
The decorated former UFC champion has been out of action since losing to a brutal front kick from Lyoto Machida at last May’s UFC 224. After the fight, Belfort left his gloves in the Octagon to signal his often-rumored retirement. The defeat was his fourth knockout loss in his last five fights (although his loss to Kelvin Gastelum was overturned).
However, as it often is for past-prime greats, the allure to return can become too great. Former rival Wanderlei Silva recently hinted at a rematch with Belfort in Bellator MMA. ‘The Phenom’ talked to the promotion, but he’s apparently much closer to signing with another major promotion.
Belfort is reportedly close to signing a multi-fight deal with Asia’s ONE Championship. The rising force has offered a deal according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani and final details are being worked out. An announcement could come as soon as this week. Belfort traveled to Singapore to meet with ONE about a potential deal.
ONE has been making waves by signing former UFC names like Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Sage Northcutt, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Yushin Okami. They’re absolutely huge in Asia, but they haven’t yet cracked the mainstream UFC market for MMA. That could all change with their tentpole show on March 31 from Tokyo.
Belfort could potentially add to that hype, yet he’s obviously far past his prime. If and when he signs with ONE, it will be the seventh promotion ‘The Phenom’ has competed for in his 23-year MMA career.