After Dan Henderson withdrew from his UFC 151 bout with Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and Jones then refusing to face Chael Sonnen on short notice the event was called off. Jones was expected to face Lyoto Machida at UFC 152 however ‘The Dragon’ refused the bout, Shogun Rua was also offered the bout but refused.
One man who was keen to test his skills against Jones was the former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort. ‘The Phenom’ reveals how he got the title bout with Jones.
“When I heard the show was going to get canceled, I offered myself. I text Lorenzo, ‘Lorenzo, you know me, I come from the old school, I just start my camp, if you need me to save the show to fight Jones, not to fight anybody else, because that’s what people want to see, they want to see Jones fight … if somebody got hurt, if you need me, just let me know. They trust me so much and I am a different type of guy, I accomplished so much things, I come from the old school and they know me, I am down to replace, I am used to that. The sport is evolved and these new fighters are worried about their careers and their status. I just want to go out there and fight and put up a great fight. I am ready most of the time and that’s the way it is. You have to be secure and you have to be committed to the organization and the fans. And we are joyful for this opportunity, fighting one the best fighters of all time, this young champion Jon Jones.”
Belfort also went on to thank the UFC for giving him the opportunity to challenge for the title and he admits the fans played a big part in his decision.
“Hey bro, my friend, why am I going to negotiate for, you know what I mean? I have a contract with the organization. I show them who I am by my attitude, not by my talk know what I mean? All that thing, negotiations, I just want to step (up) and do that for the fans. I am not worried with Lorenzo and trying to get more money and be greedy. No, I am doing this because I love the opportunity, I love the fans, I love the challenge and they are very generous. I know they are going to respect that. Lorenzo and Dana they are always be generous to me and all of the fighters and I’m just showing them my gratitude, know what I mean? When you do something from your heart, you can’t negotiate feelings. I did that from my heart. I am very grateful and thankful and the opportunity itself is the prize. The challenge is the prize.”
The former champion states he plans on using his life experiences both inside and outside of the octagon to dethrone the young champion.
“I’m an old lion, I have tricks, you know what I mean? I’ve been around. I’ve take all kinds of beatings in life, not just inside Octagon, but outside as well. It’s just using my experience and using my knowledge and getting ready. … I like him (Jones) as well, he’s very nice, very polite, so soft spoken, and a great athlete. That’s good, the sport’s getting bigger. How many guys from my era are around. Not much? How many guys from when I was fighting and winning my first title in ’96, I don’t know what Jon Jones was doing [then]. I’m privileged to fight a guy like him, It’s a privilege to me. I never thought I’d be around that much, 17 years of a career, and having this chance for the light heavyweight title. It’s a title that I had before in 2004. Here I am again with this opportunity.”
Belfort went on to say he does not want the UFC to become like boxing where fighters refuse fights on a regular basis.
“I’m a legend. I’m a legend, I’m not a diva, that is why I take this fight. I’m ready man, I’m ready to bring what people like what the fans like, what UFC likes, what its all about. That’s the UFC, its not boxing. We can not let the UFC become like boxing. This is the UFC, it’s different, its all about the sport. I live for that. I’m one of the guys that helped build the sport so, I’m privileged to fight Jon Jones.”
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