By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fans of mixed martial arts (MMA) and the UFC will be watching tonight as one of Brazil’s greats, and Carioca native, the 38-year old Victor Belfort attempts to take the title from American, 30-year old Chris Weidman. After earning the title by beating legendary Brazilian fighter Anderson Silva, the undefeated 12-0 Weidman went on to defend the title from another Brazilian star Lyoto Machida, and now aims to clear the decks of Belfort.
Belfort was born in Rio de Janeiro and studied jiu-jitsu with the Gracie family, and is known for his aggressive and punishing first-round attacks. According to reports he has the most KO wins (seventeen in his MMA career), in UFC history (eleven) and most 1st round KO’s in history (twelve, one by submission). “It’s a dream. I’m living the dream. I’m just blessed and ready to win tomorrow,” said Belfort.
Both fighters made weight on Friday in Las Vegas without trouble, but there were some accusations from the champion because of Belfort’s past use of testosterone replacement therapy, which is now banned.
“I left him alone with this whole drug test thing, but we just found out during camp he had a (high) testosterone score. I’m ten years younger than him, and he’s got a way higher testosterone level,” declared Weidman. “This guy is still cheating and I’m gonna make him pay for it tomorrow.”
The UFC 187 event was also supposed to be a title defense by Jon Jones, possibly the most dominant UFC fighters ever, but he was recently stripped of his championship designation following his arrest for alleged involvement in a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, N.M. Jones was supposed to have defended his belt against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson but now UFC officials enlisted Daniel Cormier to square off with Johnson.
In Rio de Janeiro most bars will be showing the UFC event, which starts at 11PM local time. Blue Agave in Ipanema will host a fight night party with a DJ Slim Seleem, plenty of drink specials and no cover charge. Manager Alex Barwinski says, “UFC is huge in Rio and we’ll definitely have a big crowd, probably slightly more Brazilians cheering – because Belfort is a local legend – but we’ll have a big American following here also.”