Vitor Belfort will finally challenge Chris Weidman for the middleweight championship, and he’s more than confident that he’s adding another UFC belt to his record.
Belfort is the underdog even after scoring devastating knockouts in 2013, and that’s probably because he’s competing for the first time since dropping the testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). However, Belfort is confident that stopping the treatment won’t affect his performance at UFC 181.
"I’m strong," Belfort said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. "I’m ready to take what’s mine. December 6.
"I’m like an animal. TRT doesn’t give you spinning kicks, uppercuts. You can put TRT in your body. Look all those guys that were on TRT, they didn’t have good performances. Why? That’s the question."
"The Phenom" was granted a license by the Nevada Athletic Commission and booked his fight with Weidman for Las Vegas, and he feels unfairly criticized over the past few months because of the TRT usage.
"First of all, I didn’t have any illegal substances in my body. Nothing was wrong," he said. "Everybody knew I was in TRT. Nevada knew it. I could have denied (to do the random test) because I wasn’t licensed back then and they asked me to do it. People made it become a big issue. I’m glad it’s no more.
"People talked that I was this and that, (saying) I was on steroids. I wasn’t on steroids, I was doing TRT," he continued. "I had no illegal substances in my body. I was clear. I opened all my tests. I used to do tests every week to see how my levels were. When you’re true to yourself and don’t try to cheat the system.
"A lot of guys, they just talk. I deal in a true way, open up my personal things. When you’re in treatment, your ratio goes outside and it became a big issue. I wasn’t cheating at all. I spent a lot of money in testing myself. It is what it is. It’s gone. No more TRT. Now, it’s TNT."
The Brazilian middleweight tested positive for elevated testosterone levels in a random drug test in February, but decided to hide that information from the media for months. He insisted, through his lawyer, that the result was "irrelevant."
"I’m a public figure, but I have my personal things," he explains his decision. "Everybody deserves privacy. I was just quiet in my privacy, dealing with the things that I did and just getting off (TRT). It’s a process."
Belfort wants to leave the TRT drama in the past. He challenges Weidman for the UFC gold on Dec. 6, and he will pay for the NAC tests. He says that’s "an investment and a pleasure." He would even pay for Weidman’s tests if he had to, he says. And when the Octagon door is closed, he will be ready for the champ.
"He has great skills. To be a world champion in the UFC, he’s not lucky," Belfort said. "He deserves respect and I do respect him, but I don’t see anything else besides winning that night in my vision. I’m confident in myself and my skills. That’s what I will do.
"I‘m fighting in another dimension. It’s not personal. It’s personal in the Octagon, but I just have to be better, how I can kick and how I can knee. I’m also improving, and that’s why I’m fighting in another dimension now."
Weidman did twice in a year what Belfort couldn’t do once, stopping Anderson Silva inside the Octagon in 2013. Belfort went 5-1 with five finishes since being finished by "The Spider", losing only to light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones via submission, and he doesn’t believe Weidman is better than him in any aspect of the game.
"Everywhere," he said of where he envisions him beating the champion. "It’s not the better man wins, it’s who plays better. I’m focused in developing myself. It’s a work ethic. I‘m fighting in another dimension, so it’s like I’m fighting myself every day to get better. Whatever steps in that cage, whoever is in the other side of that cage, I will win. That’s how this sport has to be. You have to be confident, but not overconfident and arrogant. I’m confident in me."
Does Belfort feel he has to beat Weidman to show that his 2013 highlight reel knockouts weren’t just a result of TRT?
"You’re using the wrong word, Ariel. It’s not I have to, it’s I want to," he responded. "When you transform you have to want you, your life is transformed and everything seems different. I cannot control the outcome, the crowd, the UFC, the commission, test, anything. The only thing I can control is my decisions.
"I want to. I don’t have anything to prove. I am who I am. Nobody can change that. Only you can change you. That’s how Vitor Belfort gets things done."