Vitor Belfort has won tournaments, titles, and nearly every accolade one could expect in a mixed martial arts career. He’s fought around the world. He’s competed at the highest of highs, and during the lowest of lows.
It’s common when he has a bout coming up to hear many wonder, “which Vitor is going to show up?”
But nearly two decades into a career that began as a teenager, Belfort seems at peace with whatever outcome results from his fights – particularly the one with Jon Jones at UFC 152 this weekend – and is now, as he reminds us, enjoying the journey, wherever it leads him.
“I've been fighting all over the world for many years, 17 years of career,” Belfort stated at Thursday’s UFC 152 pre-fight press conference. “Man, I'm still surfing that wave.”
Belfort is a man of accomplishment, but also of faith, and seems to have melded the two harmoniously in his mind.
He once chased the same championship dreams as every young fighter. Now, however, an aging Belfort is chasing the dreams of an athlete that realizes his career is finite, realizing that one day – perhaps one day soon – he will have to hang up his gloves for the final time.
“I think in life we all have goals and dreams to fulfill,” Belfort contemplated. “I learned something that is really important in life. Things that you accomplish, when you're young, in the past, we make history, but the most the most important thing is living the right present moment.”
Asked to rekindle his past, Belfort expresses a deep appreciation for the journey that brought him to this point in time, where he surprisingly finds himself with the opportunity to once again become a UFC champion.
“From what I remember, it's a great (memory), Carlson Gracie; I came to America with a dream and actually my dream is not just being a champion, my dream is to my sport become a mainstream sport,” he recounted.
“I fought in a time, a lot of people criticize us; they used to say that we never going to succeed. Just to see the sport, where it is going and where it has been. This is our living, but most important thing for me is to leave a legacy in the sport so everyone can respect what we do.”