UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and fellow Brazilian middleweight Vitor Belfort have been on a collision course for months but have had three proposed bouts (at UFC’s 108, 109 and 112) derailed due to either fighter receiving surgery on separate injuries. Now, with Belfort rehabbing from shoulder surgery and Silva healthy, “The Spider” is facing Chael Sonnen instead of Belfort in his next title defense (to come at UFC 117 this August 7th) and “The Phenom” is expected to take on the winner of that bout. The Las Vegas Sun recently spoke with Belfort and his trainer Shawn Tompkins about Belfort’s injury and on-going recovery, about what they expect to come from Silva’s title defense against Sonnen and about which man they would prefer to face next.
Belfort explained how his shoulder injury, a torn left labrum, was a pre-existing one that had dogged him for his last handful of fights and actually required the fighter to take cortisone shots in order to complete training camps.
“I had been taking shots the last couple camps to keep fighting,” Belfort said. “Everyone was saying, ‘You need surgery,’ but I wasn’t at peace with that. I went to the best doctor in Brazil, and he showed me the number of fighters who keep fighting and make their careers short. You can’t fight numbers.”
Now five months after receiving surgery on his shoulder, “The Phenom” is training regularly with nothing more than the normal amount of pain associated with mixed martial arts training. With his shoulder rehabbed and the Silva-Sonnen pre-fight trash talk hitting its peak, Belfort is quietly training to stay sharp in preparation to eventually face either Sonnen or Silva (depending on the outcome of UFC 117) for the middleweight belt and he has no preference as to which one he challenges.
“When you want something, you don’t make a prediction,” Belfort said. “I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t worry about what’s going to come my way. As long as I stay on my path, I’m not worried about who’s in it.”
Renowned Las Vegas-stationed trainer Shawn Tompkins is less reserved in offering his take on the UFC 117 title bout and seems to take issue with how outspoken current number one middleweight contender Chael Sonnen has been in the lead up to his first UFC title fight.
“Nothing against Chael, but I think he talks better than he fights,” Tompkins said. “I’ll be front row (at UFC 117) studying both of them because that’s my job. I think Chael will talk himself into the fight but, ultimately, Anderson will knock him out.”
Tompkins was also more forthcoming with his opinion of who, between Silva and Sonnen, he and his charge would prefer to face next and he believes that MMA fans share that opinion.
“It’s not personal, but it’s a little more personal (with Silva),” Tompkins said. “I think Chael will try to pick a fight, but that’s the only way he becomes popular or famous because we all know he’s a boring fighter. Anderson is the man and we want to beat that man. I think that fight would mean a little more to us. And honestly, go ask the fans who they want to see fight. It’s Anderson and Vitor.”