Vitor Belfort was unsuccessful in his recent challenge for the UFC middleweight belt in 2011, a highlight-reel front kick knockout at the hands, or feet, of Anderson Silva. But now, after four win his last five bouts – and his only loss a late-replacement against Jon Jones at Light Heavyweight — “The Phenom” feels a title shot should be forthcoming.
As Kelsey Mowatt reported here at MMA Frenzy, Vitor has been “tweeting mad”:
“Why is it that I don’t have a title shot? Just because one time, Anderson happened to land a kick?! I can assure you that, given a second chance, that would never happen again.”
“If Chris Weidman can get a title shot just by defeating Munoz, imagine how much I deserve this after devastating everyone they put in front of me, not to mention all that I have contributed to the history of the sport. I deserve more respect for what I have done, am still doing, and am about to do.”
Strong words from the former champion, sure, but is his assessment accurate?
The UFC released their contender rankings on Monday. Belfort is listed behind Anderson Silva at number two at 185 lbs., followed by Yushin Okami, Michael “The Count” Bisping, and Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza. A jaunt around the web finds these are pretty consistent (although Mark Muñoz’s recent win has him knocking at the door). After four wins, should Belfort be next in line?
Bisping, of course, was a knockout victim of Belfort’s back in February; a bout where “The Count” would have secured a title shot had he emerged victorious. It was the second title eliminator Bisping had lost in as many years, so it’s difficult to imagine him receiving that shot ahead of Belfort.
Of course Anderson Silva deserves the next shot at the belt, if he desires. But in his post fight interview, he said he wasn’t interested. Rumors have him considering a rematch in February 2014.
Can Belfort wait until then? Should he have to?
Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza and Yushin Okami have a bout scheduled for September. The winner of that bout may find himself ahead of Belfort, should he wait too long to fight again.
There’s another factor to consider, the controversial nature of Belfort’s recent ascent up the rankings. Belfort was suspended for use of banned substances by the Nevada State Athletic Commission back in 2006. His use of testosterone replacement therapy has been scrutinized by fans and media alike, with the California State Athletic Commission now refusing to allow it. His last five bouts have been in Brazil in Canada.
There’s no time to spare for Belfort, who had a shot at the title two years ago — so many years removed from the 18 year old kid knocking out the competition back in UFC 12 in 1997, when a member of his camp memorably described him as the “Tiger Woods of MMA.” With his ability to fight stateside in doubt, he finds himself in a position where he, understandably, needs to force the boss’ hand. If Silva won’t take an immediate rematch, Belfort should take one more fight against a top contender – then, there’s no denying him collecting that title shot.