July 23, 2009
Vitor Belfort is now in a dangerous holding pattern. He's still officially scheduled to fight Jorge Santiago even after accepting an offer to fight in the main event of next week's Affliction: Trilogy card in Anaheim against Fedor Emelianenko. If the main event opportunity falls through it'd be interesting mental test for Belfort to have re-focus on a fight at middleweight. There's also the issue of weight-cutting. The dieting to get down to 185 was done yesterday. Now Belfort is looking to pack on a few pounds.
The Belfort got the offer around 5:30 on Tuesday. Affliction found out earlier in the day that Fedor's opponent Josh Barnett had a failed a drug test and could not be licensed for the fight. Trainer Shawn Tompkins said it took about 30 minutes for Belfort, who spoke with Tompkins, Randy Couture and Ray Sefo, to give the go-ahead:
"It's a no-lose situation [for us]. Fedor has everything to lose," said Tompkins. "The only problem we'll have to deal with is the size difference"
Belfort was 204 pounds yesterday and the goal is to get back to 210-212 by next Saturday. California is asking that the Brazilian be a minimum of 206 for the fight. He'll be at a huge size disadvantage against the 230-pound Fedor but should have a speed edge:
"The chink that's in Fedor's armor is what Vitor's best at, that's boxing and speed. It's a game that we'd love to play."
Tompkins said Belfort's boxing is so good, he thinks he could be a top 10 boxer in his weight class right now.
"Whether Fedor believes it or not, he doesn't deal well with speed and he doesn't deal well with getting hit. He has to shuck the punch off before he comes back with his own. He moves well, he's very balanced but he doesn't move quick. It's going to be hard for him to keep up with Vitor's pace."
Tompkins is excited to get a shot at gameplanning for a battle against Fedor. He said it's similar to gameplanning against someone like Anderson Silva:
"It's the same level in that people look at them as unbeatable fighters. I think Fedor's a more consistent fighter than Anderson Silva and it's a bigger win for us if we beat Fedor."
Affliction is still waiting on a decision from the Fedor camp. Earlier today in Moscow, they said they'd still like to fight heavyweight Brett Rogers and that the fans don't want to see a Fedor-Belfort fight. Strikeforce, the company with Rogers' contract is hesitant to allow the big guy to fight Fedor. Rogers may be slated to fill-in for the injured Alistair Overeem against Fabricio Werdum on an August 15 Strikeforce card.
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