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Relaxed and Rehabbed Vitor Belfort Ready for Anderson Silva

Few of his contemporaries are still fighting at a similar level as Vitor Belfort. When the Brazilian striker burst on to the UFC scene in 1997, he was just 19 years old. Today's mixed martial arts has only a passing resemblance to that previous incarnation, yet Belfort has evolved along with the sport.

At 33 years old, he's one of few remaining fighters from those old days capable of still headlining a major card, let alone and fighting at a championship level. Next Saturday at UFC 126, Belfort becomes the next to attempt to dislodge Anderson Silva off the middleweight throne, a task that has so far proven impossible.

Despite the high-stakes matchup, Belfort says that he no longer lets the enormity of the moment overwhelm him.

"I'm the kind of guy, I don't have pressure anymore," he said. "I used to have a lot of pressure. Young guy, came to the scene, had to win. Everything was about 'have to win.' If you didn't win? It's funny how people talk. If you lose a fight, you have to retire. Everyone expects all of us to win, to do things great. It's not enough. It's never enough. You can never can please everybody. The way I live my life what I can do best today."

Belfort has won five straight matches, but only one of these came in the UFC, a September 2009 first-round knockout of Rich Franklin.

Afterward, the anticipated fight between Silva and Belfort was postponed multiple times because of injuries suffered by both men. Silva injured an elbow, necessitating surgery, while Belfort also had surgery, his to address a torn shoulder labrum.

After a 16-month layoff for the surgery and subsequent rehabiliation, Belfort will attempt to become the first UFC fighter to win titles in three different decades. In 1997 he won a one-night heavyweight tournament championship. Seven years later, he captured the light-heavyweight championship, defeating Randy Couture. And now, seven years after that, he hopes to add a middleweight belt to his list of accomplishments.

Belfort says winning the belt would not change him, noting "I already know how that feels," but acknowledged his belief that Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, as well as the challenge of facing him.

"If I said I faced someone like Anderson before, I'd be lying," he said. "He's a type of unique guy in the sport. The way he fights, the way he proves himself. It's very interesting. I'm very curious how the fight's going to go. Like he said, we're training every way possible. We have to do our best. The predictions are going to be out there. We just have to go out and do our best, what I'm capable of. We're going to have to adapt in the octagon, so be ready. We trained hard, we're both ready and it's going to be time to go."

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