Vitor Belfort is almost ready to call it a career.
The former UFC champion fell to Kelvin Gastelum on Saturday night in Brazil, which marked his third loss in a row and now Belfort says he wants one more chance to redeem himself with an upcoming card in June before retiring from the sport forever.
UFC 212 takes place on June 3 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Belfort would like nothing more than to put on a show for his hometown fans before walking away from mixed martial arts for good.
Article continues below ...
“In [June] I want to do my last fight on my contract. I think it’s my time to finish my chapter in this, as a professional fighter,” Belfort said. “I think that my body’s not the same to train, a lot of pain. It’s over 14 surgeries that I’ve done. I think I’ve left everything in the Octagon. It wasn’t the best way. I’m sad to not give this win to my fans in Brazil but it’s part of this. The sport is like this. It was Kelvin’s night. He shined.”
Belfort had previously stated that he had one fight left on his current UFC contract, but retiring was something he had already planned before stepping into the Octagon with Gastelum this past weekend.
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports/Jason da Silva
The only thing that would keep Belfort competing past his next fight would be a separate division created only for ‘legends’ of the sport, but with that not likely happening it appears the former champion will call it a career if he gets the chance to compete in June.
“It was something that I already decided, I just hadn’t announced it,” Belfort said about his pending retirement. “I say again, I reiterate I think that it would be great to have a division for the legends. We’d be able to give you more content for the fans but we’d be able to bring in people from retirement with new rules, with new sized gloves, with a new amount of time, more rest periods between rounds. I think that the fans and you as the media could see something that would be very gratifying. We miss seeing certain athletes competing but five rounds and fighting for the belt and this youth coming up, it’s not as easy for us to train. Training is what’s sacrificing.
“From my era there’s no one left. It’s not easy. Training is very tiring. I’m sure if this league was created in the UFC it would be something that would revolutionize the MMA market.”
More than anything, Belfort would like the chance to redeem himself in front of the Brazilian fans, who have supported him throughout his legendary career.
Of course, UFC 212 is only three months away so it would be a quick turn around for Belfort to fight again, especially after suffering a knockout loss to Gastelum on Saturday night.
Still, Belfort insists that the timeline works for him and it would be a chance to say goodbye to the sport he’s loved for the past 21 years.
“This year marks 20 years of my career since I won the belt and I was sure I was going to leave with a victory tonight but it wasn’t tonight. I’ll go back home, enjoy my family, reinvent myself, sit down with my trainers and see what lies ahead for me,” Belfort said.
“I’d really like to finish my career as a professional. I think I deserve that.”