It happens after every single Ultimate Fighting Championship card. As soon as the main-event of “UFC Fight Night 77” wrapped up and Belfort made his way out of the octagon with his hands raised high in victory, the majority of the viewers asked themselves, “What’s next for Belfort?”. Playing matchmaker for fighters can be fun, but nobody truly knows what the future holds for someone like Belfort except himself, his corner, and UFC management.
For fighters like Thomas Almeida and Sage Northcutt, the future in the octagon is so bright and has so much potential it can be difficult to predict what’s next for them. However, a veteran fighter like Belfort is in the position where he can pick and choose his next spot; He doesn’t need to rely on chance to move up the ladder.
Longshot: Luke Rockhold. Belfort has made it clear he is gunning for gold one final time, and sitting at the top of the division is champion Chris Weidman and challenger Luke Rockhold. The two will battle for the middleweight championship at UFC 194 later this year and the winner of the bout could be telling of what’s in store for Belfort. If Weidman retains, it is almost a sure thing that “The Phenom” will have to take one or two more fights to gain a title shot. If Rockhold becomes champion, however, Belfort could jump over other contenders in order for the UFC to cash in on a major rivalry. It’s no secret that Rockhold and Belfort don’t like each other and while Ronaldo Souza and Yoel Romero are more deserving based off recent performance, it wouldn’t be the first time the UFC overlooked sensible matchmaking in favor of making money.
Rule It Out: Retirement After his rough loss to UFC champion Chris Weidman at “UFC 187” earlier this year, fans expected Belfort to hang up his gloves and call it a career. At thirty-eight years old, Belfort has done it all in the octagon and is surely a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Despite fans and fighters alike clamoring for the fighter to retire, Belfort brushed off talks of calling it quits moments after he lost. In this sport, nobody knows when it’s time to retire better than the fighter in question himself. Seeing as “The Phenom” is coming off a major win where he took no punishment and Dana White is not pushing for him to retire, it’s safe to rule out retirement as a possibility for Belfort.
Most Likely: Lyoto Machida This would not be the first time the paths of Belfort and Machida potentially clashed. Champion Chris Weidman was forced to pull out of his UFC 184 bout with Belfort in February 2015 and Belfort was offered an interim championship bout with Lyoto Machida as a last-minute replacement. Belfort turned down the matchup as he claimed he wanted to become the undisputed champion, and not interim. With Machida in dire need of a win in the middleweight division against a worthy name, Belfort could be next in line for “The Dragon” when he decides to make his return to the octagon.
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