Vitor Belfort has most likely fought the final fight of his UFC career. It didn't exactly go as planned. Lyoto Machida launched a front kick that put Belfort out cold at UFC 224, giving him a rude sendoff into retirement.
A few days after the bout, reports indicated that Belfort had suffered a knee injury in training in the lead-up to the fight.
Though he confirmed the reports, Belfort did not try to use it as an excuse for why he lost, giving full credit to Machida. But there was no way that he was going to pull out of his retirement fight, especially considering it was in his home town of Rio de Janeiro.
"The injury that happened with me during the training camp somehow made the news. My team nor I had mentioned (it) before, during or after the fight," Belfort wrote on Instagram recently.
"Winning or losing, fighting injured or not; it is part of an athlete’s life. I’m not the first one nor will be the last one athlete to fight injured. Even though all the limitations imposed to me because of the injury I suffered, it is my decision to step into the octagon or not. And I decided to do it!" he continued.
"I did not want to miss the chance to have my last fight at the UFC; in my country, my hometown, and with a such respected opponent."
Not only did Belfort admit that he wasn't going to allow the injury to force him out of the fight, he made no excuses for its effect on his performance in the Octagon.
"I gave my best on the fight and my opponent was the better man that night. And this is what counts!" said Belfort. "Nothing that happened with me during the training camp takes anything away from his victory. Of course, it wasn’t the outcome I wished for. Not because of the defeat, because we can’t control the outcome. What bothers me is knowing that I performed below of what I know that I can."
Belfort first set foot in the Octagon in February of 1997 in only his second professional fight. He quickly established himself as one of the most exciting fighters on the roster and spent the next two decades fighting all over the world for nearly every major promotion.
If he never returns to competition, Belfort's career record stands at 26-14 with 1 no-contest.