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Vitor Belfort explains why he chose to fight ‘friend’ Lyoto Machida at UFC 224

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Vitor Belfort (EL, MMA F)
Vitor Belfort will fight Lyoto Machida in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Vitor Belfort guarantees he will enter the Octagon for the last time when he faces Lyoto Machida at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12, and he wanted to explain why he “chose” to do it against a friend.

“The Phenom” will take on “The Dragon” on the last bout of his current contract with the UFC, and he posted a lengthy statement Saturday on social media saying that the fight with Machida is a message of “respect” to the MMA world, reaffirming his stance against trash talk.

Both Belfort and Machida – former UFC light heavyweight champions – are coming off close decision victories in Brazil. Belfort defeated Nate Marquardt last June at UFC 212, while Machida scored a split-decision win over Eryk Anders at UFC Belem.

Check Belfort’s full statement below:

I’m over 20 years being relevant in this sport. I broke a lot barriers and paved the way for a generation after me. I am one of the pioneers of the sport and I’m proud it it.

I could not walk into the octagon for the last time without sending a relevant message to the: athletes, fans and to the sport itself.

That is the reason why I chose to fight a friend of mine. An athlete that I have a lot respect. A good person a family man. I’m against the so famous “trash talk”. MMA is a sport!

A sport that myself and a lot of family men work really hard to support our families. Lyoto and I have known each other for many years, I know his family and we have trained together. I wanted this fight to take place in Brazil because that is where everything started and now it’s time for us to send another message to the world.

And the message is:

RESPECT!

May 12th (Machida) and I will step into the octagon as professionals and we still be friends.

Always respecting each other and the way we will do that is giving our best in the octagon.

I want people to understand that you don’t have to be a bully to be a fighter, you have to be a real man.

And that is exactly what the world is in need, real man willing to pay the price to make a difference.