No. 1 contender Vitor Belfort extends sympathy to Anderson Silva
LAS VEGAS â€“ Vitor BelfortÂ (24-10 MMA, 13-6 UFC) may once have coveted a rematch with Anderson Silva, but he took no joy in seeing the former middleweight champ injured at UFC 168.
“It’s just sad the way it finished,” Belfort told MMAjunkie after Silva broke his leg in a rematch with champ Chris Weidman in the pay-per-view event’s headliner.
“I feel for him. I don’t like injuries. I’ve been fighting for 18 years, and I’ve had all kinds of injuries in my life. People don’t know how hard we work and how intense it is to perform.”
Two years ago, Belfort’s dream to win the middleweight title was shattered when Silva knocked him out with a front kick. After going back to the drawing board, he returned with a vengeance to win five straight in the division and earn the right to meet the winner of Weidman vs. Silva II.
Although Belfort likely forever lost the chance to rematch “The Spider,” he said a title shot is more important than avenging a loss.
“What I want is in the hands of a guy named Chris Weidman,” Belfort said. “It belongs to me, and that jungle is mine. Eighteen years. It’s a journey.”
Belfort welcomed the chance to make history as the first person to win UFC championships on three separate occasions. Early in his career, he was a tournament winner in the promotion’s no-holds-barred days and briefly held the undisputed light-heavyweight title.
When pressed, Belfort didn’t say whether he had studied Weidman prior to UFC 168. Instead, he simply gave thanks for his career resurgence.
“I’m the type of guy that I fight to win,” he said. “If you study the animals in the jungle, some animals, they hunt. But the most dangerous animal â€“ and that’s why they call him the king of the jungle â€“ is the lion because he’s unpredictable. I’m unpredictable. People think now of the kick, and here comes the hands and the wrestling and the jiu-jitsu.”
It was widely reported that had Silva won, he might have faced off with Belfort in a soccer stadium in Brazil. A Weidman victory means his next title defense likely will take place in the U.S., but for Belfort, the location of the bout isn’t a concern.
“It doesn’t matter the place â€“ I have fans everywhere,” he said. “I’m part of all countries. It’s about defining yourself. Right now, I’m representing nations; I’m representing the world. That’s my jungle â€“ the octagon.”
UFC President Dana White said he’s not yet certain when the Weidman vs. Belfort title fight will take place.
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