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Vitor Belfort says he will ‘leave the UFC' after next fight, but might not retire

UFC 204 Media Day Photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Vitor Belfort asked for a retirement fight in his hometown right after his loss to Kelvin Gastelum in March, and the UFC booked him to compete in Rio de Janeiro. However, it turns out that “The Phenom” might continue fighting after all.

Belfort is set to take on Nate Marquardt at UFC 212 at the Jeunesse Arena on June 3, looking to snap a three-fight winless skid, and changed his tone on what’s next for him after the last bout of his current deal with the UFC.

"(I will) leave the UFC, but I’ll continue competing,” Belfort told Veja Rio. "Fight is my passion. Too bad that MMA hasn’t become a serious sport yet. Maybe I’ll help change this scenario.”

Belfort (25-13, 1 NC), who won the UFC light heavyweight championship in 2004 and a UFC heavyweight tournament in 1997, has fought for the UFC belt three times since returning to the promotion in 2009, losing to Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Chris Weidman.

The Rio de Janeiro native scored his last win in Nov. 2015, stopping Dan Henderson in the first round, but was finished by Ronaldo Souza, Gegard Mousasi and Kelvin Gastelum in his following bouts. His recent loss was later overturned to a no-contest after his opponent failed a drug test for marijuana.

Belfort wasn’t asked what his post-UFC 212 plans are, but voiced his discontent with the new generation of fighters who compete today inside the Octagon.

"Today, a fighter is more artist than athlete,” Belfort said. "The UFC is a show, not a sport. It’s sad to see new fighters wanting to drive the card of the moment or be in the spotlight like Conor McGregor. Their reference is to have, not to be."

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