Vítor Vieira Belfort (born April 1, 1977) is a Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Belfort was born in Rio de Janeiro and studied jiu-jitsu with the Gracie family, namely Carlson Gracie. He received a black belt under Carlson and currently trains with Xtreme Couture, fighting in the middleweight division. He is currently ranked as the #3 middleweight in the world by MMA Weekly.

Ultimate Fighting Championship

Soon after, he moved on to compete in the UFC, where he was given the nickname The Phenom. He beat two fighters in his debut event in the UFC, winning the UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament. At age 19, Belfort became the youngest fighter to ever score a victory inside the octagon. Belfort’s next match saw him score a technical knockout (TKO) against the UFC 6 runner-up Tank Abbott in a non-tournament fight, knocking Abbott down and finishing him with a ground and pound attack.

In 1997 Belfort fought against American Greco-Roman wrestler Randy Couture, the first of three fights they would have. Belfort was upset by TKO 8:16 into the match, his boxing skills negated by Couture’s clinch fighting.

After this defeat, he would fight twice more in the UFC. The first of these fights was against a training partner of his, Joe Charles, who he defeated quickly via armbar without throwing a single punch. A year later, Belfort faced rising Brazilian star and future Pride Middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva. Catching Silva early with a left cross, Belfort chased him across the cage with a flurry of punches, TKOing Silva in just 44 seconds.

 

 

PRIDE Fighting Championships

Vitor then moved on to fight in Japan’s Pride Fighting Championships. His first opponent was Kazushi Sakuraba in 1999. Vitor controlled the first minutes of the fight before breaking his hand, the remainder of the fight was spent on his back being stomped and kicked by Sakuraba. Following the fight he stopped training with Carlson Gracie and started to train with Brazilian Top Team.

He fought five more times in Pride against Gilbert Yvel, Daijiro Matsui, Bobby Southworth, Yoshiki Takahashi, and Heath Herring. For these matches Belfort used his stand-up striking skills less and instead controlled the fights and won by ground-and-pound tactics, with the exception of his fights with Southworth and Takahashi, which he won via rear naked choke and knockout in the first round respectively.

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