Belfort Welcomes Wanderlei Rematch, Wants UFC ‘Rio’ Slot

By Marcelo Alonso Feb 15, 2011
Vitor Belfort would embrace a rematch with Wanderlei Silva. |

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Vitor Belfort’s first encounter with Wanderlei Silva lasted less than a minute. Talk of a potential rematch has persisted ever since.

Belfort blitzed “The Axe Murderer” with his fast and furious fists at UFC 17.5 in October 1998, as he stopped Silva in just 44 seconds at the Portuguesa Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Silva, who went on to become one of the most accomplished mixed martial artists in history, has long pined for a second crack at “The Phenom,” who appears more than willing to oblige his countryman.

“Brazil is dominating the sport,” Belfort told “Everybody would love to see him try and avenge that loss. He asked, and if he asked, he will have it. I’m ready for anyone the UFC wants to offer me.”

The 33-year-old Belfort failed in his bid to capture the middleweight crown from longstanding champion Anderson Silva at UFC 126 on Feb. 5. Cut down by wicked front kick to the face, he succumbed to punches on the ground 3:25 into the first round. It was the first time in more than six years that Belfort had been stopped on strikes. He hopes to get back inside the Octagon as soon as possible, ahead of the UFC’s scheduled August return to Brazil.

“I will ask the UFC to make a fight [for me] before then,” said Belfort, who, prior to his ill-fated encounter with “The Spider,” had spent more than a year on the sidelines recovering from shoulder surgery. “I stayed away for a long time. Now that I’m in good shape, I don’t want to wait six months to fight again.”

With that said, Belfort still has designs on competing at UFC “Rio” on Aug. 27 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Most view it as the perfect setting for his rematch with “The Axe Murderer.” Silva, who underwent reconstructive knee surgery last summer, has not competed since he posted a unanimous decision over Michael Bisping at UFC 110 in February 2010. He was reportedly set to meet Brian Stann in a featured middleweight bout at UFC 130 in May, though those plans appear to have been scrapped. Stann now expects to collide with former Sengoku Raiden Championship middleweight titleholder Jorge Santiago.

“I’ll be ready for UFC ‘Rio,’” Belfort said. “I want to be there.”

Belfort has much to prove following his TKO loss to Silva at UFC 126. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt entered the match on a five-fight winning streak, including one-sided victories over 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland and former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin.

“Anderson is a fighter who can pull stuff out of a top hat, just like a magician,” Belfort said. “I truly believe he will not land a kick like that again, but I was the chosen one. At least I have the honor of being chosen to be hit with a kick like that.”

Belfort made no excuses for the outcome.

“I have nothing to say,” he said. “The fight was good. I really expected to win. I was very well-trained and confident in myself. I was imposing the rhythm of the fight, but fighting is like that; the UFC is like that. The unexpected can always happen, and it was Anderson’s night. Congratulations to him. He shined.”

Belfort believes he will get another crack at UFC gold. Should he capture the middleweight belt, he would join Randy Couture and B.J. Penn as the only men in history to hold UFC titles in two weight classes. Belfort held the UFC light heavyweight crown for seven months in 2004.

“I want to return to fighting and get the chance to fight for that belt,” Belfort said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity I had and the amazing support of the fans. The important thing is to always be the same person inside or outside the Octagon. I will fight to get the chance to fight for that belt again, and I’ll fight for it.”
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