Vitor Belfort on Taking The Jon Jones Fight
STUDIO MMA, RIVERSIDE, CA – Late last week, the MMA world was shocked at the cancellation of UFC 151. It came after the UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones refused to face eight-day replacement, Chael Sonnen.
Once it was known that Henderson tore his MCL, the UFC scrambled to find a replacement to face Jones. Sonnen offered his assistants, but was ultimately shut out of the equation by the champ. The loss of the main event left the card unworthy for pay-per-view. After the UFC decided to pull the plug on the event all together, they were hit with yet another dilemma.
While announcing the cancellation of UFC 151, Dana White also broke the news that Jones will now defend his title against Lyoto Machida at UFC 152 on September 22nd in Toronto. However, Machida felt a month to prepare for Jones was not enough time, turning down the title fight.
In comes Vitor Belfort, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, who was originally scheduled to face Alan Belcher at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Keep in mind, Belfort has not fought at light heavyweight since 2007. On Monday’s edition of “The MMA Hour”, Belfort discussed his decision to take the fight, and what he thinks of Jones’ refusal to fight at UFC 151.
When I heard the show was going to get canceled, I offered myself. I said ‘Lorenzo, you know me, I come from the old school, if you need me to save the show to fight Jones … if somebody got hurt, if you need me, just let me know. I have a lot of respect for Jon Jones. I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Stepping into this fight, its old lion vs. young lion, so it’s pretty cool. I’m an old lion, I have tricks, you know what I mean? I’ve been around. I’ve take all kinds of beatings in life, not just inside Octagon, but outside as well. It’s just using my experience and using my knowledge and getting ready. … I like him as well, he’s very nice, very polite, so soft spoken, and a great athlete. That’s good, the sport’s getting bigger. How many guys from my era are around? Not much. How many guys from when I was fighting and winning my first title in ’96, I don’t know what Jon Jones was doing [then]. I’m privileged to fight a guy like him. It’s a privilege to me. I never thought I’d be around that much, 17 years of a career, and having this chance for the light heavyweight title. It’s a title that I had before in 2004. Here I am again with this opportunity.
I know Jon Jones and his camp has his [reasons], they know what is best from them, I’m not going to take any position on that. He’s a grown-up boy, he has his crew, his manager, they made their choice, that’s the choice that’s best for them. If he didn’t make that choice, I wouldn’t have the chance, so I’m very happy he didn’t take the [Sonnen] fight. I think [Chael Sonnen] didn’t deserve [a shot at Jones because of] the loss [to Anderson Silva], the way he lost. I think someone deserves it, but [Sonnen] doesn’t have a history in that weight division in the UFC. I have history in that division, I have history at the heavyweight division, I have history at the middleweight division, I think it’s fair, they way it end up. I think the fans are getting something that’s fair. I think, basically, what I think is right, what I think is wrong, I can only speak for myself.”