Belfort: Wanderlei Doesn’t Have the Chin to Trade Punches with Me

By Marcelo Alonso Jan 18, 2012
On the heels of last weekend’s stirring victory over Anthony Johnson at UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro, middleweight contender Vitor Belfort was featured this week in popular Brazilian newspaper O Globo.

In his bimonthly column “MMA: Inside the Arena,” journalist Gustavo Noblat recounted his time spent with the former UFC light heavyweight champion. Noblat followed Belfort from HSBC Arena, where UFC 142 took place last Saturday, and observed the fighter’s celebration with his family and friends.

According to Noblat, “The Phenom” was welcomed by hundreds of fans who recognized him at the entrance of Pizzaria Guanabara, a famous 24-hour restaurant in Rio. As Belfort approached the establishment at 4:30 a.m., the crowd chanted, “The champion is back!”

Belfort, who submitted Johnson with a first-round rear-naked choke, recounted his battle with the American at the restaurant.

“A wrestler won’t be able to take me down and give me a hard time. I came from jiu-jitsu,” said Belfort, who also revealed the cost of such confidence. “I had seven trainers working with me during the last three months. I spent around $100,000 with them.”

Belfort also addressed the topic of post-fight bonuses at UFC 142. While the Brazilian felt he deserved “Fight of the Night” for his efforts against Johnson, the award was instead handed to countryman Edson Barboza, who also pocketed “Knockout of the Night” after his spinning wheel kick finish of Terry Etim.

According to the report, Belfort believes the award was given to Barboza due to the UFC’s dissatisfaction with Johnson, a former welterweight, who weighed in at 197 pounds prior to the scheduled middleweight confrontation and was released following his defeat to Belfort.

“They decided to award Barboza with the best knockout and best fight of the night,” Belfort explained. “I think I deserved at least the best fight, but the problem is that they would have to reward Johnson, too, and Dana is really mad at him.”

Noblat went on to note that, the day after the fight, Belfort had lunch with Galvao Bueno, the famous Rede Globo play-by-play announcer who called Belfort’s failed title bid against Anderson Silva at UFC 126 roughly one year ago.

“Congratulations, man! More than 23 million people saw your fight,” Bueno told Belfort.

Belfort and Bueno also talked about the fighter’s next challenge, a showdown with Wanderlei Silva at the conclusion of the inaugural Brazilian season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show. According to Noblat, Belfort is excited about the program, which begins shooting in Sao Paulo next week.

“Now I’m sure the UFC will explode and reach a new level in Brazil,” Belfort said of the show’s potential effect.

Belfort’s showdown with “The Axe Murderer” is expected to take place in June. The bout will be a rematch of the pair’s 1998 confrontation in which Belfort steamrolled the future Pride Fighting Championships star in just 44 seconds.

“If [Silva] keeps the old style, I’ll break him up again,” Belfort told Noblat. “Wanderlei doesn’t have the chin to exchange punches with me anymore. Tell him to change his game, or it will be a knockout again.”

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