Failed drug tests or not, Vitor Belfort still believes he has earned his rightful number one contender-ship status for the UFC middleweight strap, and he is not afraid to let anyone know it. It is hard to argue the fact that he should not be allowed to from a fighting standpoint. Vitor has literally head kicked his way to the top of the line; finishing all of his last three bouts by head kick, one being a spinning heel kick to the dome of Luke Rockhold. “The Phenom” was scheduled to fight Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title before having to bow out of the match due to licensing issues and the fallout of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) and Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Getting licensed through the Nevada Athletic State Commission (NSAC) is still going to be quite a battle. If not for a failed past drug test, life would be much easier for Vitor Belfort in the United States. In fact, Vitor has not fought in the U.S. since 2011 when he defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama (better known as Sexyama), in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Belfort is not the only fighter who feels that he is the next in line. The man fighting for the title July 5 also admitted to saying Belfort should be next. Lyoto Machida revealed as much when he spoke with FOX Sports on the subject, while also stating Vitor’s current troubles have no affect on his state of thought, as he has bigger fish to fry against the champion, Chris Weidman, in Las Vegas. Joana Prado, Vitor Belfort’s wife and manager, had also told UFC officials that her husband has his sights set on the winner of the July 5 middleweight title fight and so do the match makers of the organization itself. Fans have not seen “The Phenom” in action since November 9 when he became the first man to stop Dan Henderson with strike. Many are itching to see the striking brilliance of Vitor Belfort back in the octagon.
First, Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida will have to clash heads to see who will carry out the belt when it is all said and done on July 5, then the UFC will just have to go from there. Vitor is still not licensed in Nevada, and may be hard-pressed to be licensed in the U.S. as a whole, which may lead into yet another fight out of the United States for the middleweight contender. The impasse between the NSAC and Vitor must be broken before Belfort is allowed to fight back in the States; not too long ago President Dana White thought it was possible and doable on both sides. With his TRT usage behind him and under control, Vitor is looking to staple his name back at the front of the line. Whether it is by voice or force, the Brazilian native will be heard and there is no time is better than the present to bring back one of the best strikers in the game. The UFC is just not the same without the highlight reel knockouts that Vitor delivers on a frequent basis for the sport of MMA.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
Follow Justin’s coverage in the MMA Spotlight section
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer leading the coverage in MMA.