Vitor Belfort told UFC Tonight's Ariel Helwani on Wednesday that he is going to ask for a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone for his next fight, which is expected to be against middleweight champion Chris Weidman later this year in Las Vegas.
The statement contradicted an earlier statement by manager Glenn Robinson, who said on The MMA Hour that he didn't think Belfort would apply for a TUE in Nevada.
Belfort said he regarded the testosterone use as medication that he needs. In theory, a TUE for testosterone should only be granted if someone's natural production of testosterone is at well under normal levels, and thus not having enough testosterone in the body is a health concern. Taking testosterone, an anabolic steroid, is otherwise prohibited in most major sports. Using testosterone signals the body to not produce it on its own, and it would continually weaken the body's natural production of it. Thus, an athlete, or anyone being prescribed the drug, would be expected to have to use it for life.
No date has been announced for the championship fight, but Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC's CEO, has previously stated they were looking for it either over Memorial Day weekend, or on July 5.
"I don't believe so," Robinson told Helwani, when asked if Belfort would be applying for a TUE. "It's something that him and I have not discussed."
Belfort (24-10) and testosterone use in Nevada is a hot button issue, because Belfort failed a steroid test, for testosterone on October 21, 2006, before a Pride fight in Las Vegas where he lost to Dan Henderson. No fighter who has previously tested positive for steroids has been granted a TUE in Nevada.
Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission had previously stated that he didn't believe an athlete who had failed a steroid test would be granted an exemption, noting he didn't believe in granting exemptions if their low natural production was based on prior steroid use, which is illegal in MMA. However, Kizer will not be involved in the case, since he's leaving the commission on Monday.
Belfort was suspended for the test failure. While under a Nevada suspension, he fought in the United Kingdom for the Cage Rage promotion. All U.S. athletic commissions honor suspensions from other states, and promotions who have Nevada licenses also honor those suspensions. But a foreign promotion that has no intention of running in Nevada would not have to honor such a suspension.
Belfort hasn't fought in Las Vegas since his Feb. 5, 2011, loss to Anderson Silva in a middleweight title fight. For that fight, he did not request a TUE. Since that fight, he's gone 7-1, with the only loss coming on a short notice fight, moving up a weight division to challenge light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Belfort, who will be 37 at the time of his next fight, has had a career resurgence while given an exemption for testosterone. On recent shows in Brazil, he's scored consecutive high kick knockout wins over Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson.