The once hushed cries for Vitor Belfort to receive a middleweight title shot have become a roar in the wake of Belfort's dramatic 77-second victory over Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 32.
Belfort, 36, now rides perhaps the largest wave of momentum of his career, having scored consecutive head kick knockouts over Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Henderson. Though his remarkable accomplishments remain clouded by his usage of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), as each of Belfort's past three wins were contested in Brazil, where he is free to undergo the controversial treatment.
Common belief is that the same would not hold true if Belfort sought a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in Nevada, in part due to Belfort's muddled history with drug abuse.
"That's not true, that's completely not true," UFC President Dana White said over the weekend. "There is no reason why Vitor Belfort can't fight in Las Vegas or anywhere else in the United States. Vitor Belfort has not been abusing TRT. In a million f--king years I would never let that happen.
"Vitor could fight in the United States now. There's no reason why he couldn't fight in Las Vegas, no matter what (Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director) Keith Kizer says. He should be allowed to fight in Las Vegas. It's ridiculous."
Belfort's ability to gain licensure in Nevada was never in question, as the state has licensed far more severe offenders, even recently granting three-time culprit Josh Barnett a license to fight on the condition of year-long random drug testing.
The issue of whether Belfort could receive a TUE for TRT, though, is a more complicated one. And it may not be as set in stone as first believed.
"Due to his past, Mr. Belfort would need to go before the Commission if he applies for a TRT TUE," Kizer told MMAFighting.com. "This is not anything new. (For example, I would not administratively grant Antonio Margarito a contestant's license so he had to appear before the full Commission -- likewise, Dave Herman.)
"The Commissioners could grant (with or without condition), deny, or take other action on any such application."
While Kizer has voiced doubts in the past about whether Belfort would be granted a TUE by the NSAC, when asked about the scenario on Monday, Kizer responded that he couldn't say what the outcome would be for certain, and that any final verdict, "would be up to the five Commissioners."
Back in late-2006, Belfort infamously failed a post-fight drug test in Nevada, then disregarded the NSAC's subsequent nine-month suspension and fought overseas in London the following April.
Regardless, if the situation arises, Belfort doesn't anticipate running into any problems in Nevada.
"It's easy, Chael Sonnen's fighting in Las Vegas," Belfort said on Saturday. "We here, we do everything by the book. I'm just gonna take my blood right now, after [the press conference], so everything is good. We can get licensed, that's no problem."