Vitor Belfort | “The Phenom”
Ht: 6’0 – Wt: 185 – Age: 35
Born: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Fights out of: Boca Raton, FL
Overall Record: 21-10
UFC Record: 10-6
Vitor Belfort is the former UFC light heavyweight champion while also being one of the early pioneers of the sport with his amazing blend of speed and power. Belfort began his mixed martial arts career in 1996 where he won his debut fight against UFC veteran Jon Hess. Belfort went on to make his official UFC debut at UFC 12, competing in the UFC’s heavyweight tournament. Belfort finished Tra Telligman and Scott Ferrozzo to win the 4-man, one night tournament. Belfort returned a few months later to knockout infamous toughman Tank Abbott in the opening minute of the 1st round. Belfort moved on to face off against Randy Couture, where he was upset via 1st round TKO. Belfort bounced back from his first career loss by defeating Joe Charles before knocking out future PRIDE champion Wanderlei Silva at UFC Brazil. Belfort left the UFC following his win over Silva, debuting in PRIDE in 1999. Belfort lost his PRIDE debut to Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba via decision. Belfort bounced back with 4 straight wins, including victories over Gilbert Yvel and Heath Herring before returning back to the UFC in 2002. Belfort lost his return fight to future UFC champion Chuck Liddell via unanimous decision. Belfort’s career was beginning to lose steam as had not scored a knockout in over 5 years. Belfort eventually bounced back with a TKO over Marvin Eastman earning him a title shot opposite former adversary Randy Couture. Their championship fight ended in controversy as Couture’s eye was damaged by Belfort’s glove in the opening seconds of the fight. The fight was re-booked for UFC 49, where Couture once again proved his dominance over Belfort, winning via 3rd round TKO. Belfort lost his next fight as well to former UFC champion Tito Ortiz before exiting the UFC in 2005. Belfort’s struggles continued as he dropped 3 out of his next 5 fights, 2 of those losses coming to Alistair Overeem, while the other came to Dan Henderson. Following his loss to Henderson, Belfort tested positive for elevated testosterone. Belfort bounced around the independent circuit, defeating overmatched opposition, though it allowed Belfort an opportunity to rebuild his career and confidence. Belfort would officially drop down to middleweight where he scored back-to-back knockouts over former UFC veterans Matt Lindland and Terry Martin in the Affliction promotion. The UFC re-signed “The Phenom” in 2009, where he instantly knocked out former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin in a catchweight fight earning him a shot at reigning UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Belfort struggled with injuries that wiped out his 2010 year, finally returning to challenge for the title at UFC 126, nearly 18 months after his last fight. Belfort lost the fight after being dropped by a front kick in the 1st round. Vitor bounced back with a one-sided knockout victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Belfort fought twice in 2011, going 1-1 overall, his loss coming to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Belfort finally got his long-awaited title shot against Anderson Silva at UFC 126. Belfort and Silva did not hide the rift that had developed over the last few years as both exchanged some heated words at the pre-fight weigh-ins. The title fight started slow as both men respected each other’s power. The anticipation continued to build around the arena as both men looked to unleash their strikes. After a few exchanges, Silva fired off a front kick that sent Belfort crashing down to the floor. Belfort was unable to defend himself and the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Belfort moved on to face Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133. Belfort swarmed early and rocked Akiyama with punches. It was an emphatic knockout victory for Belfort and afterwords he stated that he wanted another shot at Silva.
Belfort was rumored to face Strikeforce import Cung Le at UFC 139, but Belfort was forced off the card due to injury.
Belfort is one of the early legends of the sport and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Belfort looked downright dominant in his recent wins over Franklin and Akiyama. There has always been a question as to which Vitor will show up come fight night. It seems evident that Belfort is mentally stronger than before. Belfort’s speed and knockout power still make him one of the most dangerous fighters in the world. Belfort should be considered one of the top threats to Silva or Jon Jones as long as he stays healthy. Belfort has not really faced a high-caliber wrestler in the last few years, outside of an aging Matt Lindland, but he is likely to be matched up against with Sonnen, Okami, or Munoz in order to merit another shot at the UFC middleweight title.
Vitor Belfort Fight Record
Overall Record: 20-9
2008-2011 Record: 4-1
2011 Record: 1-1
Win | Yoshihiro Akiyama | KO | Rd 1 | UFC | 08/06/2011
Loss | Anderson Silva | KO | Rd 1 | UFC | 02/05/2011
2010 Record: 0-0
2009 Record: 2-0
Win | Rich Franklin | Tko | Rd 1 | UFC | 09/19/2009
Win | Matt Lindland | KO | Rd 1 |Afflict| 01/24/2009
2008 Record: 1-0
Win | Terry Martin | KO | Rd 2 |Afflict| 07/19/2008