Atencio: "Vitor Chose Not to Take the Fight"

Written by Tom Ngo
June 9th, 2009


Affliction Entertainment had it all laid out. Their sights were set on a sick catchweight scrap between former UFC champ Vitor Belfort and former Dream middleweight king Gegard Mousasi. However, Belfort pumped the breaks on the bout immediately upon hearing that it wasn’t going to happen in Mousasi’s best weight class.

“I think that we [offered] him the catch weight, Mousasi was willing to come down to 195, we wanted Vitor to go up to 195, which wasn’t heavy,” Atencio told 5thRound.com in an exclusive interview. “So it was Vitor’s choice. Vitor chose not to take the fight. We’re still gonna have him on the card. No, it was completely up to Vitor.”

The 32-year-old Belfort seems to have found his stride once again, walking away victorious in five out of his last six scraps, including his last four. Perhaps that is why he didn’t want to roll the dice by facing one of MMA’s hottest fighters.

“I thought personally, it wouldn’t have hurt his record [if he were to lose to Mousasi] because he would have been at a catch-weight,” Atencio told us. “I think he’s been doing really well at 185, but once again, that was his choice.”

“No, that’s why I don’t understand, why he didn’t take it. It was a win-win for him.”

Atencio poses a great point. Why wouldn’t Belfort want to parlay his momentum into something more special? Posting a W over someone of Mousasi’s caliber is a solid notch on anybody’s belt. Particularly if you can put on a nasty show for the fans.

“I think that’s exactly what it was, and that’s exactly what I tried to do with this catchweight, was bring two great fighters together because the match-up would have been incredible,” the soft-spoken promoter said to 5thRound.com. “Two great strikers, Mousasi has great ground as well. So does Vitor. But for the most part they strike and they knock people out. So for me, it was two great fighters fighting each other and meeting halfway in the middle.”

No doubt Atencio and Co. were disappointed when the Brazilian raised his nose at the bout, leading Affliction’s front-man to wonder where Belfort’s head is at.

“I mean he’s been out there talking about that he wants to fight Fedor,” Atencio said to us regarding Belfort’s desires of challenging the WAMMA heavyweight king. “Well, how’s he ever gonna fight Fedor if he’s not even willing to fight Mousasi?”

No real worries as Affliction wasted no time in lining up Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Renato “Babalu” Sobral as Belfort’s “replacement” to throw with Mousasi at “Affliction: Trilogy.” Which is just as good, if not better.

Thanks for the true warrior spirit, Vitor.

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