Vitor Belfort’s trilogy match with Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 77 is little more than a week away, and “The Phenom” has been busy generating headlines. The former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder was the subject of a recent Deadspin article regarding testosterone use prior to his UFC 152 clash with Jon Jones and then reportedly backed out of a schedule radio interview with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour.”
Belfort’s wife and manager, Joana Prado, addressed the issues in this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, along with his decision to part ways with the Blackzilians and his future in MMA:
Sherdog.com: There was a situation last week in which journalist Ariel Helwani claimed that you, acting as Belfort’s agent, would not accept questions related to his high levels of testosterone before UFC 152. Helwani did not accept your conditions, and you canceled Belfort’s appearance on his radio program. Can you tell us your version of the story?
Prado: First of all, everybody knows that Vitor never refused to answer any questions the press asked him. A good example involves the questions regarding his [testosterone replacement] therapy that was banned over a year ago, and he keeps answering all of them. I don’t know if the media or the fans know, but at the time Vitor was on TRT, 14 other fighters were on the treatment, as well, and 12 of them were Americans. However, Vitor is the only one who talks about it, and he has released his test results. Regarding the reporter, he asked me to give him an exclusive interview. I thought the interview would be based on Vitor’s upcoming fight, but when I realized that was not the subject, I invited [Helwani] to join the press conference Vitor was going to do the following day; the reporter chose not to participate. Put yourself in my shoes for one minute. Vitor has a very important fight coming up. He is at the very end of his training camp, and he is completely focused on his upcoming fight. It makes no sense to stop his training sessions or even his recovery time to give an interview that would cause him to lose focus. As his manager, I have to take care of these things. I will always do what I think is best for my athlete; that’s my job. Once again, I made sure to invite the reporter to come to media day. Not coming was his choice. Regarding the [Deadspin] article, we have nothing to say. All we know is that Vitor was starting his treatment under doctor’s supervision and with UFC approval. He fought Jon Jones at UFC 152, and, by the way, he was the only one willing to step up for that fight on such short notice; and he almost won in the very first round.
Sherdog.com: Did you have any particular problems with the Blackzilians? Why did you decide to start a new team?
Prado: No, we don’t have any problems with the Blackzilians. We like everybody over there, and we always had a great and honest relationship with [Blackzilians owner] Glenn [Robinson]. Vitor had a great time with the Blackzilians and is very thankful for everything they did for him, but he has been doing this for 20 years and even when he was on a team, we used to hire his own staff. Now at our gym, he has all eyes looking only at him.
Sherdog.com: How was this first camp at the OTB Fight gym compared to the last one when Belfort fought middleweight champion Chris Weidman?
Prado: With the camp for Weidman, Vitor was going to both OTB and the Blackzilians. Like I said before, we always used to bring in our own staff for Vitor’s camp. The only difference now is that we have all the coaches only working for and with Vitor.
Sherdog.com: Speaking as Belfort’s agent, if he beats Henderson on Nov. 7 and Anderson Silva beats Michael Bisping, how would you feel about a rematch with “The Spider” in a Brazilian soccer stadium?
Prado: In my house, with Vitor and my three kids, I don’t like to use the word “if.” I use “when.” It’s a way to think positive. When Vitor beats Henderson, he will take a well-deserved vacation. After that, I will let you know the next step.
Sherdog.com: As Belfort’s wife, how long would you like to see him continue fighting?
Prado: He’s the one who needs to make that decision. As a wife and manager, I have to be worried about Vitor’s health and passion. He can only keep doing what he’s been doing for as long as he has the grit, will and desire in his heart. He doesn’t need to fight for money. He fights because he has the passion, and he’ll know when the fire to fight isn’t burning anymore. Vitor’s life goes beyond the Octagon. We have other business, like our Fortfit gym in Brazil and Belfort Coffee, the organic coffee that bears his name. He will open a lot of gyms in the poor areas of Brazil to help transform people’s lives, and a lot of products will have his name on them. He knows I support him. He knows how many times I’ve sacrificed myself and our family to give him all the best for his training and his career. He also knows that I will go with him wherever he wants to go, and I will always be with him, inside and outside the Octagon. I’ve been with Vitor for 15 years, and I know his desire to see MMA become more recognized as a sport. These guys train and give their lives as real professional athletes, not entertainers. They deserve the respect of the media, fans and organizations.