Vitor Belfort: 'This is the best moment of my life'
Vitor Belfort sometimes says some pretty kooky things, and he's been mired in plenty of controversy, over the years. None of that changes the fact that he's been one of the best and most exciting fighters in MMA for nearly 20 years.
He's also set to face middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 187 this Saturday after missing all of 2014. Asked during a media scrum this week how he would compare himself now to the 2013 Vitor version that tore through the ranks to earn a title shot, Belfort was philosophical.
"As best as I can be," he said.
The former two-division champion and long-time veteran insisted that he doesn't get caught up in the past, but instead has focused on simply readying himself as best he can for his next, perhaps greatest ever, challenge.
"That's the only thing I can do. Just, [do] as best as I can do. That's the only thing I can be focused on. It's what you can do it's not what you can't. So I'm focused on what I can versus what I can't."
Win or lose, Belfort seemed genuinely excited and proud to have lasted as long as he has. One way or the other, "The Phenom" will once again take on one of the very best fighters of all time on Saturday, and he wasn't shy in marveling out loud to reporters about his history of always fighting the best.
"This is the best moment of my life," he said.
"How many fighters are going to be able to leave the legacy that I did? Nineteen years ago I was a champion. I know people don't talk much about when I was a champion because they don't consider me the youngest champion. But I had to fight two times in a night . . . the sport was totally different."
Indeed it was. Before the UFC had its current incarnation of the heavyweight championship, it held heavyweight tournaments.
Make no mistake about it -- the winners of those tournaments were absolutely considered to be the world heavyweight champions back in that day. While still a teenager, Belfort fought much bigger men than himself and became a heavyweight tournament championship by beating two men in one night.
That's pretty impressive stuff, however you want to classify it. After bursting onto the scene, Belfort languished at times, but has managed to rebound time and again.
The result is his still being a top fighter, in a third weight class, in 2015. The Brazilian plans to beat Weidman at UFC 187.
Though Weidman is considered a heavy favorite to win by most smart observers, we can't blame the always dangerous Belfort for maintaining his confidence. Anyone who has done what he's done, for as long as he's done it, has earned the right to be a little cocksure.
"At 19 years old, I came and I conquered," he ended.
"I became the youngest champion of the UFC. It was another organization that used to own it, not Zuffa. But you can not deny facts. I won that. I won a title at light heavyweight and now I'm coming to the middleweight title. Nineteen years ago, how old was Chris Weidman. What grade?"