There are certain things Vitor Belfort doesn’t want to talk
about. Looking too far ahead into the future? Forget about it.
Belfort has more urgent things to discuss, like the granite-fisted striker soon to stand in front of
him. Things he can’t control? Those aren’t really on his list
of conversational topics, either. Ask him if he’d be disappointed
to never have a rematch with Anderson Silva and it’s on to the
next, a subject simply not worth the energy.
But he no longer avoids talk about the one thing he probably
would most want to, and the thing that used to bother him:
testosterone replacement therapy. It was first learned in February
that Belfort was taking TRT, the information confirmed by the UFC
right after Belfort knocked out Michael Bisping. Just prior to
that, he’d been evasive on answering the question of whether he’d
ever applied for a therapeutic use exemption.
Since the news went public, nearly every interview that he’s
done since then has addressed it in some way. Just days ago,
Belfort made new headlines when he said he would discontinue his
usage if it meant a chance to fight for a UFC championship. That
led to a discourse about whether Belfort truly needed the treatment
or simply wanted it. After all, how important is it if he can put
it aside at the snap of a finger?
“I was just trying to say how committed I am to achieving
something,” he told FOX Sports. “Why would I want to do something
that’s going to hurt me? Just to make people feel good? Haters are
always going to be there. People are always going to talk about you
because you are somebody. Like I’ve said, this [TRT] can’t
teach people to knock people out with kicks and perform.”
That’s unlikely to make any of the critics go away. After all,
he has a positive steroid test in his history, and past steroid
abuse is a common cause of hypogonadism, the medical issue that
causes low testosterone. It’s a small leap to make that connection
in Belfort’s case.
Among TRT users in the MMA world, Belfort has largely received
the lion’s share of criticism, even though his Saturday UFC Fight
Night opponent, Dan Henderson, is believed to be patient zero in
the TRT-MMA connection. According to Henderson’s own estimation,
he’s been a TRT patient for around six years.
During a recent interview, Belfort said he’s been on TRT around
three years, though in a conversation with FOX Sports, he said he
could not recall the first fight in which he was using TRT.
However, he stresses that he is thoroughly and consistently tested,
with blood work done each week to ensure he is staying within an
acceptable, normal range.
In an effort at transparency, he said that he believes even more
should be done to make sure fans know he is not receiving an unfair
“I think everybody should be able to be following guys with big
names, especially guys in title fights,” he said. “Follow guys
through the camp and see how their blood is doing. Because it’s
everywhere. To be true, you have to be doing everything by the
book, not cheating anybody.
“I was just kind of showing how motivated I am,” he said,
circling back around to his offer to get off TRT. “Of course, they
won’t allow that to happen. It’s unhealthy for me. It would be
unfair. If you’re doing something right, everything goes good.”
Belfort and Henderson fought once before, at PRIDE 32, the first
promotional event to be held outside of Japan. In the bout,
Henderson won an uneventful decision. For Belfort, the loss made it
defeats in five of seven fights. Despite it, a rematch isn’t
something he especially pined for.
That’s born out in his performances since then. In something of
a career rebirth, he’s won nine of his last 11, with his only
losses coming in title fights against Anderson Silva and Jon Jones,
“I don’t try to plan big fights,” he said. “I’m trying to go to
the top and reach the top, and I’m trying to climb the mountain.
Dan is a mountain. So I think it’s a pretty interesting fight. To
be able to fight guys like him, with that type of credit and
knowledge is good. I like big challenges.”
It is that, he says, and not any medical assistance, that
continues to push him forward, 17 years after he made his
professional debut. After all this time, he still loves the chase.
The only difference, he says, is that these days, he can push aside
everything else that is beyond his control. Whether it’s outside
negativity, lingering doubts about his TRT usage, or what’s beyond
Saturday night and Dan Henderson, it’s simply not worth his time,
effort or energy. It may not be enough for critics, but it’s
enough for him.
“It used to bother me,” he said. “Not anymore. Not anymore. I’m
a happy guy. I know who I am. When you know who you are, it’s good.
I’m good. I know I’m not perfect but I’m trying to do my best.
That’s what I’m always doing, doing my best.”