Late last week we reported that the UFC were targeting a fight between Vitor Belfort and Tim Kennedy for a forthcoming Brazilian show, but it’s now emerged that ‘The Phenom’ has turned down the fight.
According to his wife Joana Prado who appears to be acting as his manager these days, Belfort is not interested in fighting anyone at middleweight unless it’s for the title.
“It makes no sense for Vitor, who is ranked number 1, to fight number 2, number 6 or number 10 in this category,” Prado told the Combate website. “His next fight in the middleweight division will be against the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva. If the UFC wants him to fight in any other category above average, we are available. It can be against anyone, Tim Kennedy to Roy Nelson, but it has to be in the light heavyweight division or a catchweight. Even in heavyweight. Vitor wants to fight, but in his category only if it is the title fight.”
Unfortunately for them, the chances of Belfort fighting for the 185lb strap anytime soon appear remote according to Dana White despite him having strung together three wins together in the weight class since his last unsuccessful title challenge against former champion Anderson Silva.
“Vitor, for some insane reason, believes he should get the fight with Weidman or Anderson Silva right now,” White told reporters at a post-fight scrum following ‘UFC On FOX 8 on Saturday night. “He’s out of his mind.”
So, it appears that both parties have reached something of an uncomfortable stand-off here. While it’s understandable that Belfort wasn’t overly keen on fighting Kennedy who’s not currently in the middleweight top 10 rankings, refusing to fight anyone other than the champion seems unreasonable.
At the same time I don’t think it’s as outlandish as White makes it seem that Belfort should have his sights set on another title shot.
Realistically he should be fighting someone in the top five while waiting to find out the outcome of the Weidman Vs Silva rematch. As things stand it looks like a match-up at 205lbs is potentially on the cards. That’s not so bad – there’s plenty of interesting match-ups for him there.
The problem from his perspective however is that there aren’t many easy opponents in the upper reaches of the light-heavyweight ranks, and if he were to be defeated then that would hurt his standing in the middleweight division as well.
As Dana White is fond of saying, we’ll just have to wait and see how this whole thing shakes out, but turning down fights is never a strategy that sits well with the UFC brass.