Vitor Belfort has always wanted to crossover to boxing but outside of a lone fight in Brazil more than 15 years ago, he’s never had the opportunity until now.
The former UFC champion inked a deal to compete at the Triller event featuring lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez that was originally scheduled for June 19 but has now been pushed back to Aug. 14. The delay will actually give Belfort more time to prepare after he originally accepted a bout on the card on short notice but either way, the 44-year-old MMA legend is excited to finally live out a dream that started during his earliest days in the UFC.
According to Belfort, he was actually approached about crossing over to boxing after he competed at UFC 13 but at the time he was focused on his mixed martial arts career so it never happened. Now that he’s a free agent, Belfort is ready to compete in boxing and he hopes to serve as a better representative for MMA than some fights that have been booked recently involving other ex-UFC fighters.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Belfort told MMA Fighting. “I’m so pumped, especially doing the crossover, literally seeing who has the best hands if they can box together, the MMA guy or the boxer? My debut is going to be against a YouTuber that really is not picking an easy opponent like the other two brothers [Jake Paul and Logan Paul] are. This is guy literally fighting one of the fiercest guys in the industry, not picking up a wrestler [in Ben Askren] who doesn’t know how to throw a punch. Picking up a guy [in Tyron Woodley] who can now just throw one killer punch.”
Belfort referencing Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley ties back to YouTube celebrity turned boxing prospect Jake Paul, who has become one of the most talked about athletes in combat sports in recent months. Paul made short work of Askren back in May after he knocked out the retired UFC veteran in the first round.
He’s now scheduled to face Woodley in August in what most believe will be his biggest test to date but don’t count Belfort among those that impressed.
“I don’t have nothing against them,” Belfort said. “They go make their money but they’re not boxers. I can go fight Tyron Woodley with one hand and beat him up. [Ben] Askren? It’s not even a question. That guy’s a wrestler — a great wrestler but my kid can beat him up.
“My daughter — have you seen my daughter punch? My daughter Victoria can put these guys out. Because they don’t know how to box. My kids have boxed since they were kids.”
Belfort believes the current fighters from MMA crossing over to boxing are just not suited for the sport, especially given Askren and Woodley’s shared background as wrestlers before eventually making it to a promotion like the UFC.
“I just think they are the worst representation of MMA,” Belfort told MMA Fighting during the Triller media day. “These guys that you just mentioned, I can fight all of them in one night. I’ll put them out. They cannot even survive two rounds with me, these MMA athletes that are representing us in boxing.”
The same goes for the Paul brothers, who Belfort also criticized as they continue to get involved in fights against what he believes are ultimately overmatched opponents.
Belfort would love the opportunity to face either Logan or Jake Paul, although he says the siblings from Ohio have already been avoiding a potential showdown against him.
“I’m telling you, you put these two brothers with me, I will fight both guys in the same night,” Belfort said. “You come, you get tired, comes the other brother next round, I’ll beat the crap out of these two brothers like that. Like that. They know that. They don’t want to do it. They’re afraid.
“The Triller guys said ‘Vitor, when we brought your name up, they are shaken up oh no not him!’ and they’re choosing these guys, the wrestlers.”
Prior to the delay in the event, Belfort was scheduled to face an opponent in “The Real Tarzan” Mike Holston, who also came to fame through social media and YouTube.
Belfort can’t say for certain what he expects out of Holston when they start trading punches but he has the utmost respect for anyone willing to accept a fight against him. It’s a challenge he doesn’t believe the Paul brothers would ever accept.
“A lot of guys avoid me, especially these YouTuber brothers [Logan and Jake Paul], they’ve been avoiding me for years and they’re looking for easy fights, easy money,” Belfort said. “They’re lucky cause I’ll rip their head off. This guy came and accepted and I said let’s go.”
It remains to be seen how long this current trend will continue with MMA fighters crossing over to boxing but Belfort expects to put on a different kind of display when he makes his return as part of the upcoming Triller event.
“Now they’re having the king of the knockout,” Belfort said. “Who has the most knockouts in UFC history until today?
“There was a time they brought the real striker to the crossover. Now it’s coming, it’s happening. It’s about to happen.”