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Paulo Borrachinha says he was offered Vitor Belfort but thinks UFC vet 'wants an easier fight'


Before he even joined the UFC, middleweight Paulo Borrachinha helped Vitor Belfort prepare for two of his own octagon battles. Now, he wants to meet the veteran inside of it.

The problem is that, according to Borrachinha (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC), the desire doesn’t seem mutual. The fighter, who took to social media to ask Belfort (26-13 MMA, 15-10 UFC) to accept a battle at UFC 215 in Edmonton, Canada, guarantees he was actually offered the matchup by the promotion. And he says he agreed in a heartbeat.

While he’s yet to hear a definite no, he has seen some signs. Including an Instagram one, posted shortly before Chris Weidman and Kelvin Gastelum met at last Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25. In it, Belfort said he’d like either a rematch with Gastelum or a meeting with Derek Brunson, referencing only a “beginner” that he was offered.

“This looks more like an attempt of changing the focus from the fight with me,” Borrachinha told MMAjunkie. “I saw he said he was offered a beginner – as if it wasn’t a good thing for him. But even if it were, I think the fact that he didn’t name me means he doesn’t want to fight me.

“He wants to erase the possibility of this fight happening. I think it’s very hard for this fight to happen, because we can’t make anyone fight. I respect the UFC’s policies, but I think if they’re paying the athlete, they shouldn’t be picking too much. But OK. It looks like he wants an easier fight.”

Reached for comment by MMAjunkie, Belfort’s camp sent the following reply:

“We wish him the best. He’s a kid, just starting out in the sport, with great potential. May he keep his head in place, and have the perseverance and patience to reach his goals.”

Borrachinha is at a much different point of his career than his 40-year-old target. At 26, he’s only had two UFC fights, which cap off an undefeated 10-fight record made up of finishes. Of those, nine were knockouts. After starching his first UFC opponent, Garrett McLellan, at UFC Fight Night 206, he got his second straight TKO over Oluwale Bamgbose at UFC 212.

Belfort, in turn, is coming off his own UFC 212 win – a decision over fellow veteran Nate Marquardt. Despite a rough 1-4 recent patch, Belfort has fought some of the biggest names in the sport throughout his more than 20-year career. He’s held a UFC title and fought for it another three times. And though he’s put the thought on hold, he has flirted with the idea of retirement.

While Borrachinha says he didn’t actively pursue the matchup with the veteran, he’s still quite interested in it. First, he clarifies that he has “nothing personal against” Belfort – in fact, it would be an honor to meet some who’s part of the sport’s history. Also, he’s been asking to get a crack at a top-10 opponent – and No. 11 Belfort (in the official UFC rankings) is close enough.

But there’s more to it.

“I wanted the fight to happen – I still do,” Borrachinha said. “It’s a good fight. He’s a well-known guy. I think I’d beat him, too. Without much difficulty. I think despite the fact he’s very experienced, I think I could beat him in the first round.

“Therefore, I’d like the fight. That’s simply it. But it didn’t come from me. The UFC offered it.”

Borrachinha seems encouraged by what he saw in his contact with the former champion. As Belfort’s camp confirmed with MMAjunkie, the up-and-comer was in fact brought in to help the veteran prepare for his UFC 187 title fight with then-champ Weidman and UFC Fight Night 77’s trilogy fight with Dan Henderson.

“He knows me,” Borrachinha said. “He knows my fight style. Even though we didn’t do any intense sparring there, like what I do here – which is more competitive, heavier training.

“With him, it was lighter training. But we got to know each other well. Know each other’s tools, strengths and weaknesses. Maybe that’s why he turned it down. Who knows.”

In case that fails to materialize, Borrachinha says he doesn’t have any other particular names in mind for his next bout. Given his confidence that it’s time to prove his case in the UFC with a bigger name, he’d like someone in the top-10. But he’ll fight outside of it, too. The same way he’ll fight fellow countrymen – case in point – or whomever else the UFC deems fit.

“I’m not here to turn down fights, to handpick who I will or won’t fight,” Borrachinha said.

He would, however, like to get in another fight before year’s end – the UFC’s next incursion in Brazil, rumored for Oct. 28, seems ideal for his camp efforts. After all, that would fit perfectly with the very specific plan he had laid out for the next 18 months.

“I started in the UFC in March – I fought twice,” Borrachinha said. “I intend to fight once mor this year, that will make it three. Next year, I intend to do four fights. The last one – I want it to be for the belt.

“I know it may look recent, but my division is very volatile. It changes very fast. We just saw Weidman beating Gastelum – He was coming off three straight losses, and I think if he wins one more he will be credentialed to fight for the belt again. I think with those four fights next year I can make it up there to the stab at the belt.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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