Vitor Belfort has been cleared to fight in Las Vegas. | Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com
Vitor Belfort was granted a conditional license by the Nevada Athletic Commission on Wednesday, which will allow him to face middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 181 on Dec. 6 in Las Vegas.
Belfort’s licensing hinges on three key conditions: That his first fight must come in Las Vegas, that it occurs no earlier than December and that he pay for enhanced random testing proposed by the NAC out of his own pocket. In addition, Belfort will be required to submit both blood and urine samples, and any member of the commission has the power to order a random test on the fighter.
All of the above was agreeable to Belfort, who broke down in tears while delivering his opening statement to the commission.
“The UFC is my authority; you guys are my authority,” Belfort said. “I made a commitment, and I want to fight in Vegas. I want that fight to be here. I want to show the capabilities of me as an athlete. I respect this sport and the rules behind this sport. Whatever you ask will be done.”
Commissioner Anthony Marnell issued the sternest warning to the UFC veteran during the proceedings, as he promised that Belfort will be subjected to random testing for the duration of his MMA career.
“I’ll give you my definition [of reasonable drug testing] going forward,” Marnell said. “We’re going to drug test you until the day you retire. That’s my definition of reasonable. We should be in and around your career until you call it quits.
“I just want to make sure as we address the future drug testing that we are not in a position to look like fools or ever get burned -- until the day he decides he wants to hang up the gloves,” he added. “I want a 100-percent guarantee that we’re not going to get blindsided. I don’t want to get embarrassed, and I know the commission doesn’t either.”
Much of the questioning centered on Belfort’s failure of a random test administered by the NAC in February, which the Brazilian admitted to last month.
In June, “The Phenom” issued a statement via Instagram, including the results of the Feb. 7 test which Belfort failed due to elevated levels of testosterone. The statement also included the results of several subsequent tests, which can be viewed in full here.
Results from that Feb. 7 test revealed Belfort’s testosterone level to be at 1,472 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter), well above the average male range of 300 to 1,100 ng/dl. When Belfort submitted his most recent test on May 29, however, his levels had fallen to 142 ng/dl.
After failing the test, Belfort withdrew from his UFC 175 title clash with Weidman and was replaced by Lyoto Machida.
Belfort explained that his testosterone levels were so high because he received a higher dose one day prior to traveling to the U.S. to be tested. At the time, Belfort had been granted an exemption to use testosterone in Brazil.
“I was doing [TRT] twice a week,” Belfort said. “Once I was traveling here, I did once a week. I did the one shot, so I think that’s the reason it was elevated. I took the shot the day before, so that way I didn’t have to carry the things around. That was the reason the levels were high.”
Belfort said that he immediately quit using TRT as soon as it was banned by the commission. Initially, the transition was difficult for the former light heavyweight champion.
“In the beginning it was really hard. It was a crash, but I believe we are moving by a will – some people have skill and some people have will. I have a will, and God gave me a talent,” Belfort said. “I have a mission and my mission is to be an example, to be a role model and fulfill my dream. I’m working so hard and smart; of course, I have a new way of training. I’ve decided that my mind will take over my body.”
One issue that the commission did not address was Belfort’s failed 2006 test following a loss to Dan Henderson in the Pride Fighting Championships. Belfort tested positive for 4-hydroxytestoserone after that bout. As a result, he was suspended nine months and fined $10,000 by the NAC.
While the NAC did not press Belfort on the past result, the fighter alluded to it in his opening statement.
“In the interest of full disclosure, I was suspended in 2006 and paid a fine in connection with failing a test in Nevada. I did not intentionally take a banned substance,” Belfort said. “I believe the failed test was due to a medical treatment I was receiving at the time for injury or a supplement that I was taking.”
Shortly after Machida lost a unanimous decision to Weidman on July 5, UFC President Dana White hinted that Belfort would likely be next for Weidman, provided that the Brazilian could get licensed. Now that that fight has a legitimate chance to come to fruition. White recently told UFC.com that he expects Belfort to be completely clean when he returns to the Octagon.
“If Vitor gets licensed, from now until the fight with Weidman they’re going to Olympic-style test him like crazy,” White said. “If he’s on anything, if he does anything, he’ll get caught. When he fights Chris Weidman, he’ll be 100-percent clean.”
Belfort last competed in November, when he knocked out Dan Henderson via head kick at UFC Fight Night in Brazil. It was the third consecutive head-kick knockout for the Blackzilians representative, who also dispatched middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold in a similar manner earlier in 2013. His title clash with Weidman will take place at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and will air on pay-per-view.
“In life I don’t believe you can achieve something without sacrifice,” Belfort said. “All you guys are here because you guys pay the price to be here, and so do I. I’m open; I’m reasonable. That’s what I’m looking for: Not just with me, but with the sport.
“With the fighters, whoever wants to be in the spotlight and fight for a title, whoever wants to get something, they’ve got to follow the rules.”