Luke Rockhold: Vitor Belfort doesn't pass eye test (Yahoo! Sports)


  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit

Luke Rockhold doesn't come right out and use the word "cheater" when referring to his opponent on May 18.

But the final Strikeforce middleweight champion doesn't really need to. As far as Rockhold is concerned, Vitor Belfort's build simply doesn't pass the eye test. 

"Just look at his physique," Rockhold said in a recent one-on-one interview with Yahoo! Sports. "Look at how he looks at [36 years old]. You can't tell me that at his age, something like that looks natural." 

Belfort is one of a handful of fighters in their 30s and beyond – along with the likes of Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson – who experienced career resurgences after undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), a controversial-but-legal treatment.

Rockhold, though, isn't buying it.

"TRT use is something I don't agree with at all," Rockhold said. "It's a way to get around the system. They say TRT is needed for low testosterone, that it's a medical condition. Well, what causes low testosterone? Prolonged steroid use is one cause."

[Related: Vitor Belfort defends TRT usage]

Belfort was suspended by Nevada for nine months in 2006 after testing positive for the banned substance 4-Hydroxytestosterone after a loss to Henderson in a Las Vegas PRIDE card.

"It's frustrating to someone like me, who's fought clean, has no reason to cheat, and has done things the right way," Rockhold said. 

The TRT talk has created a charged atmosphere for Rockhold's first UFC fight, which is the main event of UFC on FX 8 in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil. For his part, Belfort, a Rio native, hasn't taken one step backward from Rockhold's assertions.

On Monday, he told MMAFighting.com he considers Rockhold's words disrespectful. "I don't know what he did in the sport," Belfort (22-10) said. "I think it's disrespectful, the way that he thinks. "But it is what it is. You cannot control it, you cannot control people." 

A product of The American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., the MMA home of Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Josh Thomson, and Jon Fitch, Rockhold first made waves in the sport by recording his first seven career victories via first-round finish.

But then the 28-year old Santa Cruz native had to sit through a couple periods of prolonged inactivity. First, there was a 17-month span in 2010-11 in which a shoulder injury kept him out of action. Then, after winning the Strikeforce middleweight title, he's only fought once in another 17-month stretch, as he, along with the rest of the company roster, watched from the sidelines as the company died a slow, painful death.

"Success in this sport's so much about momentum," Rockhold (11-1) said. "It's tough sitting out on the sidelines like that. That's when I most appreciate being a part of a gym like AKA, where you've got someone like Cain, who's dealt with a major injury, someone like Daniel who's been through the ups and downs… coaches who have been there and done that."

[Also: Anderson Silva fined $50K for skipping media event]

As if the war of words over TRT weren't didn't already add intrigue, Rockhold admits to carrying a bit of a chip on his shoulder on behalf of his former company. Former Strikeforce fighters like Cormier and Thomson have made successful UFC transitions in 2013. Even those who have come up short, as former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez did in a split decision against UFC champ Ben Henderson, have acquitted themselves well in defeat.

"To this day, you hear it," Rockhold said. "You go online and you see people putting down what you accomplished in Strikeforce, and they say things like 'you're in the UFC now, they're going to put you in your place. At this point it's like, have you even been watching the fights? Did you see what Josh did to [Nate] Diaz? So yeah, it's a little bit of extra motivation to prove I belong."

With a 10-fight win streak, few question whether Rockhold belongs. But a victory would cement his place. For all the heated talk between the two, Rockhold still respects what Belfort, who made his UFC debut as 19-year old billed as "The Phenom" at UFC 12 in 1997, has accomplished in the sport.

"He was one of the very first fighters I followed as a fan," Rockhold said. "He's on the short list of guys, including Randy Couture, who inspired me to give fighting a try. The closer we get to the fight, the more real it becomes. I don't agree with the choices that he's made in recent years, but I can't deny what he's done in the sport. 

Belfort's only losses since 2007 have been to current UFC champions Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. He rebounded from his September loss to Jones with a head-kick finish of Michael Bisping in January.

"There's a reason I wanted Belfort," Rockhold said. "I didn't want a tune-up fight. I didn't want an easy fight. I asked for this fight, when Vitor beat Bisping I saw a window of opportunity. I didn't want to sit around and wait forever.

"I want to take on the best, make the best impression, and show that I'm worthy of a title shot. Vitor's still got his heavy hands, I respect that and I'm cognizant of it, but I'm confident I can take this fight anywhere he wants to take it. I can win the fight standing and I can win it on the ground."

Popular UFC video on Yahoo! Sports:

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Herschel Walker's nephew, a top TE recruit, says no to Georgia
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is great, but he's not close to the best ever
Watch: Wild wreck wreaks havoc on Talladega field | Photos
Josh Hamilton a disaster with Angels, but there's hope

view original article >>

Related News

  • 22 days ago
  • 47 views

Top-ranked middleweight contender Luke Rockhold has been cleared to resume training after recovering from a broken toe in his right foot, MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani reported on UFC Tonight. A former Strikeforce champion, Rockhold (12-2) suffered the injury midway through his dominant UFC 172 performance over Tim Boetsch, which he won in a little over two minutes via an inverted triangle/kimura. The 29-year-old AKA product is currently the No. 5 ranked middleweight in the UFC, and including read news >>

  • 22 days ago
  • 84 views

It's a Chris Weidman title fight, "The Phenom" rematch or bust, for the former Strikeforce middleweight champion. Despite pleas from his teammates to move on, Luke Rockhold just can't seem to get Vitor Belfort out of his mind, 14 months after getting knocked out by "The Phenom." Time and again, Rockhold has pleaded for a do-over against the Brazilian, though not much has come of it; as Belfort has bigger fish to fry in the form of a middleweight title fight. However, there is one thing that Luke read news >>

  • 5 days ago
  • 24 views

UFC top middleweight Luke Rockhold has never been shy about his feelings about performance-enhancing drugs in MMA. Bleacher Report got a chance to chat with Rockhold and get his opinion on Vitor Belfort, PEDs and more. Check out why he has no respect for Belfort and why he thinks the Brazilian won’t even make it to his upcoming title fight with Chris Weidman at UFC 181.Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com read news >>

  • 4 days ago
  • 78 views

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- During a media scrum at UFC on FOX 12, Luke Rockhold talks about his back and forth with Michael Bisping on Twitter, staying ready in case Vitor Belfort gets injured before his upcoming title fight, his stance on cheaters in sports, and more. read news >>

  • 4 days ago
  • 311 views

Top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Luke Rockhold believes Vitor Belfort will never make it to his UFC 181 title fight against Chris Weidman, because "The Phenom's" frail body will fall apart after years of PED abuse. read news >>

  • 2 days ago
  • 148 views

Luke Rockhold and other UFC fighters have criticized Vitor Belfort for testing positive in the first test he did outside of Brazil after a 3-0 run in 2013. Rockhold said Belfort’s "frail" body would fall apart before his title fight with Chris Weidman, scheduled for UFC 181 on Dec. 6, but "The Phenom" says they are all just jealous. "I think they are just afraid. I understand," Belfort said Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "That playboy is still in shock from the kick. He’s in shock. People are read news >>

  • 2 days ago
  • 26 views

"Hey bro, the altitude is too high." Top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Luke Rockhold has been asking for a rematch against Vitor Belfort ever since "The Phenom" kicked his head into the stands at UFC on FX 8 in early 2013. That was one of three frightening knockouts landed during the TRT-tor era. Sorry/not sorry. While the Brazilian is currently focused on his UFC 181 title fight against Chris Weidman, which takes place this December on pay-per-view (PPV), he was gr read news >>

  • 2 days ago
  • 13 views

Luke Rockhold said he would relish the chance to “shut his mouth and get paid for it,” referring to fellow 185-pounder Michael Bisping. What Rockhold really wants, though, is a shot at Vitor Belfort.Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

  • 26 days ago
  • 32 views

While the judges gave UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman a unanimous decision nod for his UFC 175 victory over Lyoto Machida, most observers would likely agree the final two frames were very competitive and could have gone Machida's way. The judges only gave Machida the fourth as did UFC President Dana White, according to his post-fight press conference comments. Still, is that enough to get Machida a rematch? Probably not. "I gave Machida the fourth round," White said when explaining his s read news >>