Belfort ready for 15 min. with Johnson
It has been nearly 15 years since Vitor Belfort erupted onto the American MMA scene by winning the heavyweight tournament at UFC 12. His lightning-quick hands and knockout power earned him the nickname “The Phenom” as he steamrolled his competition, making him one of the sport’s biggest stars in the process.
While Belfort’s career has seen its fair share of obstacles, the lion-hearted Brazilian with devastating hands is on a push to solidify his legacy in the sport. He will be looking to add another chapter to his storied career when he faces Anthony Johnson on Saturday at UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro.
"I feel a lot of things have been accomplished," Belfort told HeavyMMA. "I’ve given a lot to the sport of MMA in the past, and now I’m looking to give all I can to make it successful in the future. I’m the type of guy where if the UFC needs me, I’ll be there working for them. I’ve accomplished a lot of things in this sport, and my legacy will be to finish better than I started."
In preparation for his upcoming battle in Rio, Belfort enlisted the help of nutritional guru Mike Dolce. While most fighters say cutting weight is never easy, applying the methods of "The Dolce Diet" and the unflappable positivity Belfort brings to the table have kept him in high spirits throughout the process.
"I’m the type of guy where I live for the moment and for the future," Belfort said. "If you want to have a good life, you have to be happy first. Everything in life is a victory. Everything I’ve gone through in life, I’m already victorious just to be here. You have to have cheer in your heart and keep your mind focused on good things. That is what I do. I train, work hard and sacrifice. That is the principle.
"Mike is here with me now, working by my side as I get ready for this fight. He is preparing my meals and right now — I’m getting ready to eat a Nutella sandwich. Before this, I would never imagine eating a Nutella sandwich while I was cutting weight — so I’m very happy."
The lead-up to the fight hasn’t been without friction, as Johnson’s statements regarding his intentions for the matchup have grabbed headlines in the MMA media. As a veteran of the sport, Belfort has seen every side of the fight game and chooses to allow things to settle themselves when the cage door closes.
"The talking doesn’t affect me at all," Belfort said. "Whatever he says is not going to change anything. It is not going to change the way I fight or pursue the fight. We are going to have 15 minutes, and that is a lot of time. We are going to have our 15 minutes, and all of the talk will be left behind. Anything can happen in this fight. He’s a wrestler. He likes to kick. He likes to bang, and when he gets on top he likes to stay there. I like to trade and I’m good on the ground. Anything can happen.
"We are going to be in the Octagon together, and I would rather show respect. I would rather respect my morals, principles and when it comes to the fight, I want to leave my best in the Octagon."
The fight with Johnson will mark Belfort’s first fight in Brazil since he earned his now classic highlight-reel knockout over fellow countryman Wanderlei Silva in 1998. The sport has grown immensely since then, and Belfort knows it has been the fans that have made it all possible.
"The biggest investors in this sport are the fans, and I can promise them I’ll give my best on Saturday night," Belfort said. "People need to buy this pay-per-view. Watch this fight in America because, it’s going to be an amazing night."