(This story appeared in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)
Brazilian fighter Vitor Belfort isn’t the type of person to ask for something he doesn’t think he deserves.
Right now, though, he thinks he deserves a shot at the UFC’s middleweight title.
“I don’t think it’s time to ask; I think it’s time to earn,” Belfort (23-10 MMA, 12-6 UFC) tells USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “That’s my ethic in life. Life is about earning. Sometimes in life, you look at very rich guys who have been given everything, and they wind up crashing. They lose their family’s fortune. They didn’t know how to keep it because they didn’t earn it. That’s how I go through life.
“I go to the gym every day. I work hard. I know I will bring that title back. But it’s not about waiting for the time. It’s about making my time now.”
In recent years, it seems UFC title shots often have been granted to the most outspoken contender rather than the most deserving. Middleweight Chael Sonnen (27-13-1 MMA, 6-6 UFC) is the poster boy of such opportunities, masterfully campaigning for title shots in two different weight classes, where he lost each time. But Belfort, 36, chooses to not follow that path.
“Everyone is about fighting for the title, and they want to get themselves there by selling fights, picking fights, talking trash on Twitter,” Belfort says. “I’m not saying they’re wrong. It’s a style. I’m not criticizing or judging them, because I don’t have that right.
“But I have the right to work hard and to ask people to recognize that work. That’s the way I want to get to the top, and I believe I made it. I believe I’ve done everything necessary.”
Indeed, Belfort is 7-1 in his eight bouts as a middleweight, with the loss coming in 2011 to current champion Anderson Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0 UFC). Since that defeat, Belfort has earned stoppage wins against four different middleweights while also venturing up to 205 pounds for a chance at champ Jon Jones, where “The Phenom” nearly pulled off a monumental upset before ultimately submitting in the fourth round.
But after wins in 2013 against Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping — both of whom were expected to challenge for the title should they have beaten Belfort — the knockout artist wants to know from UFC brass why he shouldn’t be next for the winner of next month’s UFC 162 headliner between Silva and challenger Chris Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC).
“Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, they are promoters, and I respect them very much,” Belfort says. “Right now, I haven’t heard from them, and I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve served the organization very well.
“I’m fighting in main events, winning fights, shocking everybody. I’m right there, and they know that. Now it’s just waiting to see if I’ve done enough.
“You cannot go against results, so look at my results. That’s what I mean. Some people earn, and some people don’t. They try to get there without earning it. I believe in every area of my life, I earn — and I earn through the glory of God.”
For more on UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.