A mature Belfort against Silva

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Vitor Belfort is getting ready for the fight of his life, against Anderson Silva, next Saturday, and GRACIEMAG.com will be at UFC 126 in Las Vegas to witness it. In the meantime, check out the interview our correspondent Nalty Jr. had with Belfort, which was already published in GRACIEMAG #166 but so far hasn’t been posted on the website. Vitor won’t have it easy, but from his statements, readers will notice he is a more mature fighter as he heads into the octagon.

Anderson with Belfort and UFC president Dana White at UFC Rio press-conference / Photo: Carlos Ozório

You were once considered the MMA fighter with the best boxing technique. Is your boxing still better than the other MMA fighters?

No, I don’t think so. Far from it. There are so many good guys out there these days.

What technical fundamental is it that, after so long, you haven’t managed to polish up as much as you would have liked?

There are so many… Sometimes I feel like a Jiu-Jitsu white belt, an amateur boxer… I’m an apprentice. I feel you have to think ahead the whole time, want to improve. You can’t get comfortable.

What’s the worst mistake and best move of your career?

My best move was leaving Brazil to live in the USA. My biggest mistake is often leaving the solution to a problem for later.

You were one of the first to question fidelity to a single team in training for MMA. You were criticized for it. However, now it seems to be quite a common stance among top-tier fighters…

It’s cool to see the guy who used to criticize me doing the same thing he criticized me for. I feel people have to have some humility and realize that before criticizing we have to try and understand what it means. What is fidelity? It’s a word everyone uses but that few manage to put to practice. Fidelity is something within us. I feel that, for the sport to evolve, people need to share their knowledge, learn from one another, because no one knows so much that they don’t need to learn and no one knows so little they have nothing to teach. The big question surrounding this matter isn’t fidelity but people seeing MMA as a job, as growth, learning, seeing it all through humble eyes and knowing that nobody knows everything. The other day I saw an interview with Lyoto, where he went to train at AKA, trained with Cain Velasquez; sometimes he trains with Cigano. These days everyone follows this principle. Someone out there has to break the ice, to say it can be done, there’s nothing wrong with it. Obviously there will always be critics, people taking up arms, but I feel what’s important is that we stick to our beliefs.

Which fighters do you most like watching in action?

Cain Velasquez is a sight for sore eyes. Randy Couture’s another, because of his perseverance, because of the way he pursues his endeavors, the challenges he imposes on himself. Minotauro… Jon Jones… The Brazilians in general… Anderson Silva, too, with that ability of his to mix all the different styles of fighting together.

Who are the main fighters in MMA history?

Royce, Marco Ruas, Fedor, Randy Couture, Minotauro… and so on. There’s a bunch of them.

How much longer do you plan on fighting MMA?

I plan to fight for another five years. After that I’ll dedicate myself to the business surrounding the sport, surrounding MMA. Sometimes, when we’re starting something, it doesn’t occur to us that it will end someday. I never imagined that one day I would have to stop fighting. When talking about retirement, I imagined it as being far away. Some people retire earlier, others later, others seem like they’re never going to retire, as is the case with Randy Couture. The important thing is to know that the one making your decisions is you: we can’t break from our principles. A lot of people live frustrated lives, and happiness is a question of making decisions. That’s what determines a man’s future.

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