Mixed martial arts fighter, Vitor Belfort, was born April 1, 1977, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Known as “The Phenom,” Belfort has become one of the top fighters in today’s world of MMA. He first developed an interest in martial arts at the very young age of eight, when he began training in Judo. By the time he was 17, Belfort became the youngest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter to receive a black belt. His master, Carlson Gracie helped him achieve this great honor.
Carlson Gracie brought Belfort who was only 19, to the United States to compete in his first sanctioned MMA tournament in Hawaii, called Superbrawl. Belfort was paired against John Hess, a giant measuring 6’5 and over 300 lbs. In just 12 seconds, Belfort took down Hess by knockout (KO) and gained attention within the MMA organization quickly.
BELFORT IN UFC
Only four months after winning his MMA debut fight, Belfort moved on to compete in the UFC. At his debut event at UFC 12, Belfort took down both of his opponents, Tre Telligman and Scott Ferrozzo by technical knockout (TKO), winning his Heavyweight Tournament and becoming the youngest fighter to be victorious inside the octagon.
Continuing with his hot streak, Belfort competed against vice-champion of UFC 6 David “Tank” Abbott in a non-tournament match at UFC 13. Belfort knocked Abbott down and finishing him with a ground and pound attack for the TKO in less than two minutes.
Later in 1997, Belfort fought American Wrestler Randy Couture, the first of three fights that they would have. At 8:16 into the match, Couture defeated Belfort with a TKO, making it the first defeat of his professional MMA career.
Belfort shook off the lost and competed twice more before leaving UFC for a short time. The first was against training partner, Joe Charles who he defeated with a submission armbar without throwing a single punch. Then, about a year later, Belfort fought against fellow Brazilian, Wanderlei Silva. Able to catch Silva early on with a powerful left cross, then led with multiple punches to beat Silva with a TKO in 44 seconds.
PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Following his dominating fights with UFC, Belfort temporarily left and moved on to compete in Japan’s PRIDE Fighting Championships to try his hands in other MMA Competition. In his first stint in Pride, Belfort mounted a 4-1 record against stiff competition. Unfortunately, Belfort was defeated in his first match against Kazushi Sakuraba due to breaking his hand in the first round. Following the fight Belfort stopped training with Carlson Gracie and began with Brazilian Top Team.
Following his defeat, Belfort came out strong winning his next four matches against Dutch striking powerhouse Gilbert Yvel, Daijiro Matsui, Bobby Southworth, and Heath Herring, making Belfort an MMA legend at such a young age.
In 2001, Belfort participated in the ADCC Championships, in the Absolute division. Belfort faced Genki Sudo who he defeated, winning by points. He then was up against Ricco Rodriguez who he also defeated, winning by points. This then qualified him for the semi-finals where he lost by points to Ricardo Arona, winning him the bronze medal.
RETURN TO THE UFC
Late 2001, Belfort was scheduled to return to the UFC to fight Tito Ortiz in the main event for UFC’s first Las Vegas show. Due to a prior injury, Belfort was unable to compete. Eventually Belfort did return and fight Chuck Liddell at UFC 37 but was defeated by unanimous decision. He then came back for UFC 43 victoriously TKOing Marvin Eastman.
After seven years since his first defeat, Belfort wanted a rematch with Couture for the UFC light heavyweight championship. Despite his heartbroken grief over his sister Priscila’s disappearance on January 9, 2004, Belfort wastriumphant winning UFC46 on February 2 in 49 seconds, after a seam from Belfort’s glove cut Couture’s eye leaving Couture with a corneal abrasion, prompting a referee stoppage. A third match between the two took place on August 21, 2004. Couture won via doctor stoppage after the third round, recapturing the UFC light heavyweight title back.
February 5, 2005, Belfort fought Tito Ortiz in UFC 51. Belfort broke Ortiz’ nose with his fierce strikes in round one and almost took Ortiz down in the second but was ultimately defeated on the ground. Belfort lost by split decision.
With his quick yet vicious hands, Belfort was ideal for boxing. On April 11, 2006, Belfort fought in his professional boxing debut against Josemario Neves. Within the first minute Belfort knocked his opponent down three times and then won by TKO.
This has been Belfort’s only venture into the sport of professional boxing but has expressed his desire to return.
CAGE RAGE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Belfort also competed in the Cage Rage Championship, a United Kingdom based MMA program. On April 21, 2007, Belfort defeated Ivan Serati by TKO at Cage Rage 21 and then defeated James Zikic by unanimous decision on September 22, 2007 at Cage Rage 23 to claim the Cage Rage Light Heavyweight title. Belfort entered the fight with a broken hand and utilized takedowns with ground and pound techniques instead of his signature strikes. After the fight, Belfort apologized to the crowd for not putting on a more entertaining show but promised a better fight next time.
On July 19, 2008, Belfort fought Terry Martin at Affliction – Banned. In the second round Belfort landed a flying knee which followed by an uppercut straight-left combination giving him the KO.
During this time, Belfort began training with Randy Couture full time in Las Vegas at Xtreme Couture.
Six months later after a hand injury, and Affliction moving Belfort to middleweight, he entered the ring against former Olympic wrestler Matt Linland at Affliction – Day of Reckoning. Belfort dropped Linland with a straight left to the jaw, followed by four fierce power shots as he hit the ground for the KO.
SECOND RETURN TO THE UFC
During a press conference, UFC President Dana White announced that the UFC has re-signed Belfort. His first fight was against Rich Franklin at UFC 103 where he won by KO three minutes and two seconds into the first round.
Through a tweet, White announced Belfort next fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 126 for the belt. On February 5, 2011, Belfort lost via KO. This was the first time Belfort had ever been knocked out cold.
Today Vitor Belfort is training in Las Vegas at Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture Gym and fighting in the middleweight division. Belfort is currently ranked seventh in middleweight according to Sherdog.com.
On April 21/2011 UFC president Dana White revealed to ESPN.com’s UK branch that Vitor Belfort would face Yoshihiro Akiyama on Aug. 6 in Philadelphia.