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To keep up with Vitor Belfort, one must battle fatigue

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Vitor Belfort hasn’t been the lesser controversial figure in a fight equation since UFC 142, back when the behemoth Anthony Johnson couldn’t squeeze into his middleweight trunks. Since that time it’s been one grand inquiry into the "Phenom," who camps somewhere between the letters WWJD and TRT. Whenever Belfort is preparing for a fight, media gets to juggling his asterisks. At some point, it gets as old as the old lion himself.

He doesn’t like it. And neither do we. Vitor and the Surrounding Questions is not exactly a feel-good dynamic during Fight Weeeeeeek! It’s just a thing that must be endured on both sides.

Things are no different heading into his main event bout with the 45-year old Dan Henderson — a former-TRT recipient — who should be the ricketier story line in play. Should be, if it weren’t for Belfort, who can overshadow any man’s vulnerabilities and outchecker the most checkered of pasts.

This time Belfort, quietly going about his life of reshaping into a more believable version of a 38-year-old man, had some old biographical details squirm back into existence that are just…like, well, actually pretty exhausting. The news came via a Deadspin article in September by Josh Gross, in which it was revealed that the UFC allowed Belfort to fight Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 152 despite a suspect drug test. In the new age of enhanced third party out-of-competition testing, it could have been brushed off as a finding from a prehistoric time. Instead, the UFC downplayed it to the point of low-grade hysteria.

And when it came time for Belfort himself to answer for it, he doubled down on everyone’s sudden want of taking a nap. He and his camp tried to pre-edit an interview before an appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday — asking to leave out the squiggly bits — and when that was shot down, cancelled. A couple of days later, on Inside MMA, he did appear, and he talked about the things that he is always being asked about that have so little to do with the fight in front of him. He said there was some conflation going on, media doing the media thing, but that the UFC and the Ontario commission approved his drug test so no worries. He said he was never anything other than open about it.

Or, to be exact, he said, "I offered myself. I shared all my tests, my exams with them, and one went public, I think they shared my privates, but everything got approval."

Unfortunately, Belfort’s privates are getting shared too often. Even when he re-dresses himself with Faith, it doesn’t do the rest of us much good.

This is where it just feels tired. All of it. Belfort in his twilight years is a red-tape story. He has been since that fight with Jones, whom he nearly submitted that night in Toronto and injured in the process. During his three-fight annihilation streak in Brazil in 2013, when he went berserker on Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Henderson and left them all sleeping like torpedoes at the bottom of a lagoon, it never felt right. Belfort with his TRT exemption, looking like a hulk and destroying visitors to Brazil…it raised a lot of questions. It never felt on the up-and-up.

Then of course, in a poetic twist of fate, he was tested in Nevada in February of 2014 while attending an awards show to collect hardware for Fighter of the Year. He tested for high testosterone levels. Later, he pled his case before the Nevada Athletic Commission, and was thrust into his title fight with Chris Weidman. When it finally did happen — after a couple of postponements — Belfort was a drastically reduced version of himself.

Now he’s getting ready to fight Henderson in a rubber match at UFC Fight Night 77 in Sao Paulo, a trilogy that began at Pride 32 when Belfort popped for elevated testosterone. The second fight was part of that 2013 morphology scandal when he was taking all the heads. This time Belfort’s under fire for all the old familiar things, and nobody is loving the process.

It’s played out. The whole thing. Belfort doesn’t like it, and the media doesn’t either. You know it’s tiresome when everybody is mumbling "Jesus" under their breaths, yet for reasons with nothing in common.

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