Vitor Belfort became the UFC light heavyweight champion with a win over Randy Couture in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2004. Ten years later, "The Phenom" returns to Sin City to take on middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 173 on May 24.
Belfort earned a shot at the 185-pound title with consecutive knockout wins over Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson in Brazil, but his impressive run is linked to his testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
With a 6-0 record in non-title fights since returning to the UFC in 2009, Belfort fights in Las Vegas for the first time since he started his treatment. The Brazilian, who claims to be the most tested fighter in the UFC roster today, wants Weidman to get extra testing for their championship fight.
"I don’t believe (Weidman is on steroids), but people give too much importance to the treatment I religiously do with medical support," Belfort told MMAFighting.com. "And to make it fair, my opponent should also be tested with blood exams throughout his camp."
It’s not clear yet if the Brazilian will be granted an exemption to take TRT for UFC 173, and Keith Kizer leaving the Nevada Athletic Commission could change the odds of it happening.
"That’s not up to me," said Belfort when asked if he had better chances with Kizer out of NAC. "My job is to train and fight, and that’s what I’m doing."
Belfort was last in Las Vegas when he suffered a first-round knockout loss to Anderson Silva in 2011, but he feels good about fighting again in Sin City.
"It’s a place that I’m used to, and I feel great there," he said. "I’m sure that I’ll see many Brazilians in the audience, and that will push me to the victory."
"The Phenom" enters the cage riding an impressive win streak, but maybe not as great as Weidman’s. Belfort was 18-8 when Weidman made his MMA debut, but the American enters the bout following back-to-back victories over arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the history, Anderson Silva.
"My opponent is coming off victories, but that doesn’t bother me because I’m also coming off convincing wins," Belfort said. "I think we’ll have a good fight."
Belfort, who historically has had issues when fighting wrestlers, is confident on his weapons to beat the middleweight champion wherever the fight goes.
"As Carlson (Gracie) used to say: be ready for a war in the air on the ground and on the water. That’s how I feel for some time," he said. "I feel ready to beat anyone. I’m not saying that to boost my confident. I really feel ready."