The “Young Dinosaur” doesn’t see extinction anywhere on the horizon. In an interview with MMAjunkie.com Radio, Vitor Belfort said he is looking to mirror the longevity of opponents Randy Couture and Dan Henderson.
Belfort (23-10 MMA, 12-6 UFC), who rematches Henderson (29-10 MMA, 6-4 UFC) in the headliner of UFC Fight Night 32, said he’ll hang up his gloves when he doesn’t feel passion for competing. But as long as that remains, he’ll keep fighting.
“I believe in joy,” said Belfort. “When I step into the octagon and I don’t feel the pleasure and I don’t feel the adrenaline and the purpose, I think it will be time to stop.
“I made a plan to go into my 40s, so that’s kind of the plan. So I like to plan things. I believe the more you plan, the more you succeed.”
UFC Fight Night 32 takes place Nov. 9 at Goiania Arena in Goiania, Goias, Brazil. The event’s main card airs live on FOX Sports 1 following prelims on MMAjunkie.com.
As of late, Belfort’s success has led him to the kind of resurgence that is a signature of both Couture and Henderson’s latter careers. Since a loss to Henderson at PRIDE 32 in 2006, he has beaten all but former middleweight champ Anderson Silva and light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones in 11 outings. In his past two fights, he’s delivered the kind of jaw-dropping finishes that might guarantee a middleweight title shot were it not for a stunning front-kick knockout loss to Silva in 2011.
Belfort also has courted controversy as a public user of testosterone-replacement therapy and faced questions of whether a previous steroid suspension has limited his ability to fight in certain jurisdictions within the U.S. (UFC President Dana White has denied Belfort’s past bars him from places such as Las Vegas.)
Belfort’s second fight with Henderson represents his second trip back to light heavyweight after an impressive, yet ultimately unsuccessful run at the UFC middleweight belt. It’s not yet known whether his fate at 185 pounds rests in the hands of Silva, who lost the belt to Chris Weidman and in December gets a chance to win it back. A win over two-time PRIDE champ Henderson would keep his stock high, though a 2012 submission loss to Jones makes a rematch a long shot for the near future.
Following this past Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 30, White said Belfort could be paired against another ex-champ looking to reinvigorate his career at middleweight – Lyoto Machida, who knocked out Mark Munoz with a head kick in the event’s headliner.
For now, Belfort, who in 1997 was the youngest UFC tournament champion and in 2004 briefly took the light heavyweight title from Couture, said he’s simply trying to enjoy the process of becoming a better fighter as he trains with the Blackzilians. After several years of bouncing from gym to gym, he’s found stability in South Florida.
But as comfortable as the 36-year-old fighter is, he’s also open to the idea of pursuing a different path as he grows older.
“Of course, things can change,” Belfort said. “I’m very open. God will tell me what I have to do, and he will prepare what I have next for me. I love business, and fighting is a business for me. You can only work at things you can have pleasure and appreciation (for), to wake up every day and work hard.
“That’s what I ask God for – ‘God, when I finish, just give me something that I have the same type of intensity of being successful, of being tenacious, with determination, dedication, drive, desire, discipline.’ I want to apply all the techniques that I learned in martial arts and business. That’s how I look at my life. That’s how I raise my kids.
“I believe age is something (where) the body can be dying slowly, but I believe your spirit can be renewed. It’s just a matter of attitude and perseverance.”
For more on UFC Fight Night 32, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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