As the saying goes,” Anything can happen in MMA.”
“The Phenom” Vitor Belfort will get a chance to prove that statement true as he faces Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight championship at UFC 152.
Belfort, a former UFC light heavyweight title holder, earned the title shot after the chain of events that led to the cancellation of UFC 151 and Lyoto Machida passing on the opportunity to face Jones in a rematch, steps into a situation where he is looked at as the underdog.
And why not? All nine of his losses have been to former MMA champions and legends in the sport. He is also fighting in a weight class he hasn’t been in since 2007, against the biggest star in the UFC.
Yet the Phenom’s preparation for the fight and history could end up leading him to recapture the light heavyweight title.
Shortly after the fight was announced, Belfort moved his training camp from Xtreme Couture to the JACO Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla., with the Blackzilians Team. The Phenom’s training camp is being overseen by Rashad Evans, another former light heavyweight champion, former training partner of Jones and the last man to face Jones in the octagon and the last man to take Jones to a decision since the champion’s fight with Stephan Bonnar in 2009.
In addition to Evans, Belfort will be training with the likes of former Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez and former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem, who has defeated Belfort twice.
Training camp aside, what about the actual fight?
Belfort knows what he is getting himself into. In an interview with GracieMag, he spoke about Jones and what he thinks of the odds.
“I make my own odds. I make my own atmosphere. I recognize I have the phenom history, he has the phenom history too. This guy is amazing.”
The “phenom history” can be referred to Belfort’s early days where his combination of quick hands and ground skills helped him capture the UFC 12 tournament title at the age of 19 and beat names like Tank Abbott and Wanderlei Silva.
Although Belfort has had his share of losses, he has always seemed to rebound a loss. After his loss to Henderson back in 2006, Belfort went on a five-fight winning streak that included a 37 second knockout victory over Matt Lindland and a first round K.O. win over former UFC Middleweight champion Rich Franklin.
Belfort, who is 35-years-old, is currently riding a two-fight winning streak that includes a a first round knockout over Yoshihiro Akiyama and a first round submission win over Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Prior to his wins over Akiyama and Johnson, Belfort suffered a first-round knockout loss to Anderson Silva in the middleweight title fight at UFC 126.
Belfort’s situation is similar to former rival-turned training partner- Randy Couture, who was the underdog when he faced Chuck Liddell for the UFC Interim Light Heavyweight championship back in 2003. Couture was able to out strike Liddell and finish him in the third round.
Other fighters who have gone on to win championships at what some would consider “old age” include Dan Henderson winning the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title at age 40 and Couture recapturing the UFC Heavyweight championship at 43.
With Jones’ last four wins have been against former UFC Light Heavyweight champions. Belfort’s desire of winning the UFC Light Heavyweight belt may seem distant.
However The Phenom has his eye on the prize and pulling all of his resources together as well as relying on his faith to help defeat Jones and once again win the UFC Light Heavyweight championship.
How do you think Belfort will do against Jones? Answer by commenting in the box below or send a tweet to @alstover with the hashtag #RantMMA