COMMENTARY | On Saturday, May 18, 2013, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold will attempt to establish himself as a top contender within the UFC when he takes on former Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort.
Throughout the build-up to this fight, Rockhold launched a campaign criticizing Belfort for his use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). The former Strikeforce champion passed judgment on Belfort's physique, and all but labeled the UFC veteran a career-long cheater. In a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports, Rockhold stated:
"Just look at his physique. You can't tell me that at his age, something like that looks natural. TRT use is something I don't agree with at all. It's a way to get around the system. They say TRT is needed for low testosterone, that it's a medical condition. Well, what causes low testosterone? Prolonged steroid use is one cause."
Belfort was, indeed, suspended for nine months in 2006 for his use of a banned steroid at the time. However, his current TRT usage is overseen by medical health professionals, and testosterone levels must be normal at the time of the fight. The procedure is currently legal, and Rockhold's continual efforts to complain about his opponent's usage of the therapy only divert his attention away from the apparent dangers that await the former Strikeforce champion at UFC on FX 8.
On May 18, Rockhold will do battle in his opponent's home country of Brazil. Not only is Belfort presented with home-field advantage, his experience in mixed martial arts (MMA) is approximately three times that of Rockhold. The Brazilian has fought a complete list of who's who in MMA, including current Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, and current Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. In fact, Belfort is 8-2 in his last 10 fights, only losing to the latter mentioned champions, who are both considered the top one and two pound-for-pound fighters in all of MMA.
Noteworthy fighters who have fallen at the hands of Belfort include, Michael Bisping, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Rich Franklin, and Randy Couture. "The Phenom" is a complete striker who can knock anyone out with either hand. He sports 15 knockouts to his credit, and uses his grappling skills to close the distance and inflict major damage upon his opponents. Belfort's disdain for and harm he will do to Rockhold this Saturday night is duly noted. The former light heavyweight champion recently appeared on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. Rockhold's talk of Belfort being "less of a man" enraged the Brazilian. To this, he stated:
"I think it's disrespectful, the way that he thinks. But it is what it is. You cannot control it. You cannot control people. My conversation with him will be inside the cage. I don't have to talk. We're going to fight, and that's what it's about." He continued, "Words have power, and I think when you're proud, and you're arrogant, and you cross the line, you've got to deal with what you said."
It appears that Belfort is focused, and not just on his upcoming bout with Rockhold. He is attempting to position himself for another title shot. He believes that, despite his recent loss to Jones at UFC 152, the record that he's compiled against named opponents warrants him another championship opportunity.
In the end, TRT is perfectly legal within the sport of mixed martial arts. Even after a complete understanding of his opponent's past and current medical situation was gained, the former Strikeforce champion accepted the upcoming bout against Belfort. Incessantly complaining about these facts is counterproductive to the greater task at hand, and serves as a distraction from the significantly dangerous obstacle Rockhold faces at UFC on FX 8.Clinton Alexander Bullock has been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in the Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, Next Step Magazine, and Yahoo! News. Follow him on Facebook & Twitter @clintonbullock. ______________________________________________________________
More from this contributor:
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Martial Arts
- Vitor Belfort
- Luke Rockhold