Although Vitor Belfort has never had a middleweight scrap inside an Octagon, UFC brass haven’t been shy about crowning him the division’s top contender. Belfort officially earned his nod by slapping former champ Rich Franklin silly in a 195-pound catchweight bout at UFC 103 in September 2009.
Prior to that, “The Phenom” posted back-to-back knockout victories against veterans Terry Martin and Matt Lindland, respectively. Both of those 185-pound bouts were for the now defunct Affliction Entertainment.
Those three lights out wins, parlayed with his former UFC light heavyweight champion status were enough to convince UFC president Dana White that Belfort was to be Anderson Silva’s biggest threat to date.
While MMA’s powerful man may have been sold, fanboys just weren’t buying. What did he see in Belfort that warranted the silver spoon treatment?
Did the jiu jitsu black belt just give away his UFC 126 game plan? Furthermore, he actually has the cajones to stand toe-to-toe with MMA’s deadliest marksman – this side of Jose Aldo?
“This is my job, right? I’m training Muay Thai a lot with a world champion and my karate coach is coming next month,” the 33-year-old confidently stated. “I’ll be ready when I get there, you can be sure.”
After countless disappointing main events, pay-per-view purchasers have longed for some edge-of-your-seat excitement. If Belfort keeps his word, which everyone is hoping and White is banking on, this middleweight bout should prove to be an electrifying opening act for Super Bowl XLV.
UFC 126 takes place February 5th inside the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.