Forget doctor’s orders. Vitor Belfort was determined to make his final walk to the Octagon.
Sources confirmed with MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz that “The Phenom” suffered an injury to his left knee in the first week of camp preparing for UFC 224, which took place last Saturday at the Jeunesse Arena in his home city of Rio de Janeiro.
News of the injury was first reported by Combate.
Belfort, 41, would go on to lose by second-round knockout to fellow Brazilian star Lyoto Machida. Afterwards, the former UFC light heavyweight champion laid his gloves down in the Octagon and declared his retirement, as was expected, signaling the end of an MMA career that began in 1996.
Sources told Cruz that Belfort was advised by multiple doctors to pull out, but he made the call to fight despite being injured. It is still being decided whether he will undergo surgery on his knee.
UPDATE: Belfort wrote a post on Instagram to address the injury.
With the intention to be as honest as I can be with my fans and specially with my opponent, I will go straight to the point. The injured that happened with me during the training camp somehow made the news. My team nor I had mentioned before, during or after the fight. Winning or losing, fighting injured or not; it is part of an athlete’s life. I’m not the first one nor will be the last one athlete to fight injured. Even though all the limitations imposed to me because of the injured I suffered. It is my decision to step into the octagon or not. And I decided to do it! I did not want to miss the chance to have my last fight at the UFC; in my country, my hometown and with a such respected opponent. I gave my best on the fight and my opponent was the better man that night. And this is what counts! Nothing that happened with me during the training camp takes anything away from his victory. Of course wasn’t the outcome I wished for. Not because of the defeat, because we can’t control the outcome. What bothers me is knowing that I performed bellow of what I know that I can. I literally grew up in the cage, I was wrought to be a fighter, to leave it all in the cage... and this teachings I brought to all the aspects of my life. Dedicated every minute, every second doing the best you can in whatever you’re committed to. To the ones genuinely concerned with me, I will tell you this: I feel like an injured Lion. To the haters and envious, I will tell you this: I might be injured, BUT I’M STILL A LION! See you all very soon...