Vitor Belfort slipped onto the UFC 152 card at the last minute to give champion Jon Jones a worthy opponent after the ill-fated UFC 151 was a no-go.
It was by a hair, though, that the fight that fell from the heavens into Vitor’s lap didn’t end up nosediving to hell.
Vitor by no means wanted put his fans and bosses through any more frustrations. And after the fight, he tried to keep mum about it to not sound like he was coming up with excuses. But it happened nonetheless:
About two weeks before the fight, Belfort was at his Florida training camp at Blackzilians team, working with some wrestlers to get him up to speed to handle the light heavyweight king’s takedowns.
So Vitor got clutched around the waist, tried defending but succumbed to a picture-perfect supplex. The Brazilian tried landing as best he could but felt something pop out of place. The pain that followed signaled something was amiss.
Following immediate medical attention, the verdict: Vitor had cracked a rib.
It’s nothing unusual, as his nemesis Wanderlei Silva tends to say, for a UFC fighter to do combat while nursing some injury or another. The main issue wasn’t the damaged rib, which happened to get worse when he tried for the armbar and when Jon Jones landed a foot to his abdomen.
What really made it rough on Victor was that he had to go seven days without training. The challenger, who only had three weeks of preparations to begin with, had to sit out the second week of his training camp. So he winged it. He started shadow boxing all the time and sweating it up on the stationary bike. A little over a week later, once his body let him, he went back to hitting the mitts but avoided doing much contact training. And he never got back to the Jiu-Jitsu and guard attacks he’d been practicing before getting hurt (and which he put to use in the first round, with the now famous armbar).
In no way does any of this take any credit from Jon Jones, who put away the valiant challenger in the fourth round—despite the damage to his arm. But it does show that Victor, who earned points with his boss Dana White, deserves his fair share of credit too.