In the first week of April, Vitor Belfort will add reinforcements to his training camp as he prepares for a May 14 meeting with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 198.
Belfort will be joined by his karate master, Vinicio Antony, who previously helped “The Phenom” train for bouts against Rich Franklin, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson. Antony believes that the Brazilian’s sharp hands will be the turning point in his fight against Souza.
“Many people say that Vitor is the favorite in the first round,” Antony this week told Sherdog.com. “The truth is that everybody plans to take him into the second round, but few are able to do so. But the last one who was able to take him into the second was knocked out by him in the same round.
“The point is that Vitor well-trained, well-prepared, with a perfect camp, is almost unbeatable. Planning to take him to the second round is one thing. Achieving that goal is a little more difficult.”
Antony, who has trained Belfort since the age of 16, does not deny that the 38-year-old middleweight’s strategy for beating Souza is a clear one.
“Avoid grappling and do everything possible to keep the fight standing until he connects with the right blow to decide the fight,” Antony said. “We have a lot of respect for ‘Jacare,’ but there is one field in the game where Belfort is almost invincible. In that area, he is really superior to most opponents. He is one of the few guys in the division who is able to decide a fight with one blow.”
Antony defended the grappling skills of Belfort, which were widely criticized following his ground-and-pound defeat against Chris Weidman at UFC 187.
“Now, it’s pretty much in fashion to say that Belfort is blind on the ground, [Conor] McGregor is blind on the ground,” said Antony. “People forget that Chris Weidman is a black belt under Matt Serra and also had a hard time from the bottom when [Luke] Rockhold took him down. ‘Jacare’ also went down when he fought [Yoel] Romero and didn’t do anything. The same happened to Vitor and McGregor, not because they are blind on the ground, but because they were dizzy or tired from their opponents’ punches. It doesn’t matter if you’re a black belt from Rickson Gracie -- if you fall to the ground in that situation, you’re gonna have a hard time.”
Next week, Antony will travel to Florida to join Belfort’s camp. Others helping Belfort prepare for UFC 198 include jiu-jitsu coach Amaury Bitetti, boxing coach Pedro Dias and wrestling coach Kenny Monday. Among Belfort’s sparring partners for the camp are Cosmo Alexandre, Jordan Johnson, Leandro Ataides and Matheus Diniz.