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Vitor Belfort has no regrets about balking on UFC 184 fight: 'I'm the guy who has saved many events'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Vitor Belfort could have fought at UFC 184 after Chris Weidman went down with a rib injury. The UFC offered him a few opponents; Belfort's team countered with some of their own.

At the end of the day, it didn't work out. And Belfort is cool with that, because he'll still be getting his middleweight title shot against Weidman in the co-main event of UFC 187 on May 23 in Las Vegas.

"The way I see it is from my lens -- the lens of truth," Belfort said after the UFC's Welcome to the Show press conference before UFC 184. "When something goes wrong, it's not me that makes decisions. It's not my fault if the [fight] got canceled. It's not because I got an injury, it's because Chris Weidman got an injury. People think, 'Oh, Vitor is gonna step up.' But my trainer said, 'No, we're gonna wait.' They offered him one fight. It's business, it's dealing. In business, sometimes it doesn't go the way you think. It's nothing personal."

Belfort said during the presser that they knew Weidman's injury wasn't going to keep him out long. And being on a stacked card in May was hard to pass up.

"I think the injury wasn't big enough, so the coaches, with my office, they decided let's wait for Chris," Belfort said. "[I've] been waiting for a year. This is a fight the fans want to see. And look at the card. The card is amazing."

Indeed, everyone at UFC 187 stands to make a lot of money if they have pay-per-view points in their contract. Jon Jones defends his light heavyweight title in the main event against Anthony Johnson, plus the Weidman-Belfort co-headliner and a lightweight title eliminator between Donald Cerrone and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

UFC president Dana White took a minor dig at Belfort during the press conference saying he gets emotional about business situations.

"One little thing goes wrong and Vitor goes crazy," White said.

Belfort (24-10) didn't take it as an insult, because he's comfortable with his history. He's the same guy who moved up to light heavyweight to fight Jones at UFC 152 three years ago when seemingly no one else would.

"That shows me that I stand for my rights," said Belfort, who has won three straight and five of his last six. "I'm the type of fighter, the way I please Dana is with my attitude. I always step up. I'm the guy who has saved many events. I've been doing this for a long time."

Weidman and Belfort were supposed to fight last May originally. But Belfort failed a drug test following the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) ban on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which Belfort had been on legally for years. Weidman instead beat Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 last July.

That would have set up Weidman vs. Belfort at UFC 181 in December, but Weidman injured his wrist. The fight was then scheduled for the main event of UFC 184 before a Weidman rib injury.

Belfort, 37, knows he has been panned by fans and critics online for not taking a fight at UFC 184 -- among other things -- but he does not read social media or MMA news websites.

"If I see something that's not good, I don't click and try to see," Belfort said. "Why? I have a wife that tells me the truth."

"The Phenom," who is now in his 19th year as a pro MMA fighter, stands by his choice to wait until May, no matter what some might say.

"I think when people criticize me that I stand for what I believe, that showed me that, it doesn't mean I'm right all the time, but I stand for what I believe," Belfort said. "It's all called morals and morals you can't buy. [I'm] someone who stands, who fights, who's a guy doing this for so long. That's giving me credit, I think."