Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort explained to MMA Fighting on the MMA Hour why he chose to fight Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title on Sept 22nd. Basically, Vitor stepped up to take on the opportunity to help save the UFC 151, though it had already been cancelled prior to his offer. When Lyoto Machida bowed out of the UFC 152 fight against Jones, the UFC called upon Belfort to battle the champ and he accepted.
“When I heard the show was going to get cancelled, I offered myself,” Belfort stated. “I said ‘Lorenzo, you know me, I come from the old school, if you need me to save the show to fight Jones … if somebody got hurt, if you need me, just let me know.’”
Now training with the Blackzilians in Florida and reportedly having Rashad Evans step in as his head trainer for the upcoming bout, Vitor plans on making the most of his chance to step in and fight Jones.
“I have a lot of respect for Jon Jones,” said Belfort. “I’m very grateful for opportunity. Stepping into this fight, its old lion vs. young lion, so it’s pretty cool.”
Belfort has fought for the UFC for 15 years. He participated in UFC 12 and fought through 2 men to win the Heavyweight Tournament in 1997 and was a former UFC light heavyweight champion also. He hopes his expertise and experience will be enough to dethrone Jones.
“I’m an old lion, I have tricks, you know what I mean?” Belfort said. “I’ve been around. I’ve take all kinds of beatings in life, not just inside Octagon, but outside as well. It’s just using my experience and using my knowledge and getting ready. … I like him as well, he’s very nice, very polite, so soft spoken, and a great athlete. That’s good, the sport’s getting bigger. How many guys from my era are around? Not much? How many guys from when I was fighting and winning my first title in ’96, I don’t know what Jon Jones was doing [then]. I’m privileged to fight a guy like him, It’s a privilege to me. I never thought I’d be around that much, 17 years of a career, and having this chance for the light heavyweight title. It’s a title that I had before in 2004. Here I am again with this opportunity.”