Brazilian mixed martial artist Vitor Belfort decided to hang up his gloves early this year, following a knockout loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 224. But his retirement is poised to become short-lived as the former heavyweight tournament champion is eyeing his return to professional fighting next year.
Belfort spoke to Ariel Helwani on Monday and revealed he is now in talks with some MMA promotions for his comeback in 2019 after he called it quits last May.
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The 41-year old fighter last saw actions in May, when he collided with his co-Brazilian at UFC 224. Belfort was knocked out by Machida in the second round, giving him his fourth loss in his last five fights.
Following this defeat, ‘The Phenom’ announced his retirement from the sport. It was actually his exact plan as he promised himself in 2007 that he will call it quits at the age of 40, more than two decades after his debut in 1997 at age 19.
His clash with Machida was also his last fight under his contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, making him a free agent now going into his future return in the sport. The native of Rio De Janeiro has recently revealed that he will come out retirement to compete again in MMA next year.
“I am a free agent. We are in conversation with promotions. In 2019 I will come back,” he said on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort plans to come out of retirement pic.twitter.com/RkdrE1RgfF
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Belfort, who has the second most number of finishes in UFC, was thankful for the Nevada-based promotion for giving him a platform to bring his value. Now, despite being at 40, he believes that he still has a lot to bring to the table. Citing reasons on his decision to unretire, ‘The Phenom’ said he wants to create change in the sport.
“I never plan things, but I remember in 2007, I made a decision, ‘OK, I’m going to be fighting until I’m 40.’ Here I am, finishing this plan I made in 2007. You’ve got to respect your body and know the time to transition to what’s next. A lot of athletes cannot transition. They don’t have nothing to do after.”
”We are looking for a place where we can be a fighter and be the athlete and we can bring value. I am very thankful with what UFC provide me and I saw how UFC was run by very smart businessmen. They gave me the opportunity to create my own platform.”
Watch the full interview in the video below:
“I have so many things that I want to accomplish and I think the sport needs a change,” Belfort claimed.
(Featured Image Source: Vitor Belfort/Instagram)