A former UFC light heavyweight champion. A former UFC heavyweight tournament winner. A dozen knockouts inside the Octagon.
Wins over Dan Henderson, Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping, Anthony Johnson and Rich Franklin.
But that big, murky cloud hanging over the head of Vitor Belfort remains one that will forever haunt his legacy.
It should be a no-brainer that “The Phenom” goes down as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He started his career in 1996 at SuperBrawl 2 with a first round knockout vs. Jon Hess.
All these years later, Belfort will – likely – make his final appearance inside the Octagon when he takes on fellow former UFC champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 224 Saturday night.
To go with the aforementioned accomplishments, Belfort once fought Tank Abbott inside the UFC, scoring a first-round, first-minute finish. He also has faced Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Tito Ortiz, Alistair Overeem and even Kazushi Sakuraba.
Belfort, though, has made more headlines in recent years for his use of TRT. The difference in the look of the Brazilian was evident, as were the results. Impressive finishes of Bisping, Rockhold and Henderson led Belfort to securing another shot at the UFC title, only to be finished by Chris Weidman.
The wins over Bisping, Rockhold and Henderson all came in his native country where he wasn’t as regulated in terms of taking substances. Once he returned to the U.S. to face Weidman in 2015, it was obvious something was different about Belfort.
He returned to Brazil and bested Henderson again in 2015, only to suffer losses to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Gegard Mousasi in 2016, sparking most to believe the end was near.
A 2017 loss to Kelvin Gastelum seemed to seal his fate, but Gastelum failed his own drug test for marijuana and the result was changed to a no-contest. A June decision win over Nate Marquardt prolonged the career of Belfort to this weekend.
Now, he says this is it, and hopefully he means it. Regardless of the TRT use, Belfort’s in-Octagon skills made him famous and we should all remember him for that.