COMMENTARY | Even though the UFC's middleweight title picture hasn't been clear for the past year or so, Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort (23-10-0, 16 KOs) has managed to separate himself from the rest of the pack with his impressive knockout victories against Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold.
Factor in the fact that Vitor's only two losses since resigning with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2009 were against long-time middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva and current light-heavyweight kingpin Jon "Bones" Jones, and it's hard to deny the fact that Belfort has done enough to earn the next crack at the promotion's middleweight strap.
The Brazilian certainly thinks he's done enough to earn a shot at the winner of the Silva vs. Chris Weidman title clash set for July 6 at UFC 162.
"Everyone is about fighting for the title, and they want to get themselves there by selling fights, picking fights, talking trash on Twitter," Belfort explained during an interview with USA Today. "I'm not saying they're wrong. It's a style. I'm not criticizing or judging them, because I don't have that right. But I have the right to work hard and to ask people to recognize that work. That's the way I want to get to the top, and I believe I made it. I believe I've done everything necessary."
Unfortunately for Belfort, there's a decent chance he won't get a shot at the UFC's middleweight title anytime soon.
If Weidman defies the odds and emerges victorious at UFC 162, Silva will undoubtedly get an automatic rematch. After successfully defending the middleweight title 10 consecutive times, MMA's pound-for-pound king has earned that privilege.
On the other hand, if Anderson emerges victorious at UFC 162, there's still a decent chance the promotion's brass will look elsewhere.
For one, Silva and Belfort met back in 2011, and The Phenom ended up on the wrong side of a spectacular knockout via front kick to the face. Given the one-sided nature of the first fight between the two, the demand for a second isn't particularly high.
Then, there's the possibility of super-fights against Jon Jones and current welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre.
If neither super-fight pans out, there are still more profitable options on the table for Silva. For example, a bout against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le (not saying he's earned it) would probably be a bigger draw. Hardcore MMA fans have fantasized about that matchup for quite some time -- primarily because Silva and Le are two of the most technically skilled strikers in the sport's history.
Regardless of future possibilities, Vitor remains hopeful that the UFC's brass will reward him for his hard work with a title shot in the near future.
"Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, they are promoters, and I respect them very much," Belfort added. "Right now, I haven't heard from them, and I don't know what's going on, but I've served the organization very well. … I'm fighting in main events, winning fights, shocking everybody. I'm right there, and they know that. Now it's just waiting to see if I've done enough. … You cannot go against results, so look at my results. That's what I mean. Some people earn, and some people don't. They try to get there without earning it. I believe in every area of my life, I earn - and I earn through the glory of God."
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