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Dana White 'blown away' by Vitor Belfort, but won't commit to title shot

Esther Lin

UFC president Dana White is plenty impressed with Vitor Belfort after the latter became the first opponent ever to finish Dan Henderson via strikes.

"Big things for Vitor Belfort," White said at the UFC Fight Night 32 post-fight press conference. "Big night. He did something no one has ever done in 39 fights, he stopped Dan Henderson."

But he's not quite ready to guarantee "The Phenom" a shot at the winner of the UFC middleweight title rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva just yet.

"You never know what happens, here," White said. "That Weidman-Silva fight happens, someone gets hurt and they've sidelined, you just never know what's going to happen."

Belfort's quick head-kick KO of Henderson in the first round of their light heavyweight fight Saturday night in Brazil was his third in a row since losing a light heavyweight title shot to Jon Jones. All three wins have come by way of head kicks.

White, who has criticized Belfort in the past, admits he's come around.

"Vitor's a completely different fight than he was when he was younger," White said. "He's mentally there, he's physically there, he's more well-rounded than, yeah, I'm blown away by tonight's performance, we'll see what's next."

Belfort, for his part, made it clear a rematch with Silva, who he lost to at UFC 126, is pretty much the only thing he's interested in.

"I'm looking forward now for the winner of Anderson Silva and Weidman," Belfort said. "Dana is the one who will make the call and I just gotta be ready. I told them I'll be ready."

The UFC boss admits that Belfort in a title fight -- particularly if it's a rematch with Silva -- would be blockbuster. But he also knows that things can go wrong in the time between promised next title shots and actual events.

"You've got the Chris Weidman-Anderson Silva rematch," said White, who indicated UFC 168 has a $5.6 million advance gate with nearly two months left until fight night. "That has to happen, but yeah, Vitor Belfort. Weidman, Silva, Machida, there's a lot of big fights out there for Vitor Belfort. ... There’s nothing but big fights for Vitor. Imagine if we do Anderson Silva vs. Vitor belfort again? You can do that in a soccer stadium here."

Belfort, of course, has been criticized about fighting exclusively in Brazil in recent years while taking testosterone replacement therapy -- compounded by his 2006 steroid suspension in Nevada.

White scoffed at those who insinuate Belfort is being tucked away in Brazil for these reasons.

"The people who talk about him fighting in the United States talk a lot of s--, don't they?" asked White. "They talk s--- but they want to see Vitor fight in the United States. Vitor could fight in the United States now. There's notreason why he couldn't fight in Las Vegas no matter what [Nevada Athletic Commission executive director] Keith Kizer says."

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