Somewhere between rising star and unstoppable testosterone monster, Vitor Belfort lost his way.
It was an almost unnoticeable change. In his earlier UFC years, he was a seemingly limitless talent who beat many spectacularly and yet fell to some of the best. When he fought elsewhere, he had mixed results too, crushing cans and succumbing to legends. But then something happened while he was out of the spotlight, something wholly unnatural that defied the fate that inevitably befell those who’d entered the game in the same mid-90s period. Instead of getting older, and therefore slower and less competitive, Belfort was only getting faster and more explosive. It was a Benjamin Button-ish conundrum, the kind of reverse aging that in more primitive times would’ve resulted in accusations of witchcraft. And we loved it, because he was back in the UFC and thrilling us by doing the impossible.
Of course he was up to his neck in TRT, a modern Dr. Faustus of Brazil whose deal was not so much with the Devil as it was with the synthetic hormones injected into his ass. We knew this. Accepted it. Swallowed it as part and parcel of the highlight reel action he gave us when he took out Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson. Sure, Belfort’s experience and ability made him capable of throwing deadly spinning kicks, but the testosterone kept the engine running in peak condition long after it should have sputtered and died, and he was almost rewarded for his “legal cheating” with a title shot. Almost, until the Nevada State Athletic Commission put the kibosh on all things testosterone, and Belfort was left the choice of facing champ Chris Weidman in Las Vegas in May completely off the sauce – thereby getting a huge slice of the pay-per-view pie for what was sure to be an event with a gigantic buy rate – or take a pass.
Belfort chose to take a pass.
Here’s what Belfort posted on his Instagram:
I want to apologize to all my fans that have been let down by the news of me not competing in the title fight against Chris Weidman. I wanted nothing more than to go and compete for the belt. As you all know, I have been doing a legal treatment approved by every commission I fight under called TRT for a health deficiency that I have. As of yesterday the Nevada commission banned the use of TRT. I am not exempt from the rules. I respect the Commission’s ruling, and have dropped my TRT program as of yesterday. My body wouldn’t have had enough time to acclimate and I wouldn’t be able to meet the new requirements of the commission swiftly enough to be licensed for the main bout and permit the UFC sufficient time to promote it. I am prepared to fight for the championship belt without my TRT program. I look forward to competing under the new set of regulations. I want to thank all my fans, the UFC, and all the commissions for their unwavering support and I will come back stronger than ever! I’m waiting for the winner.
He went on to post this to his Instagram as well:
I would like to share the declaration of my doctor: Vitor Belfort’s TRT have always been a medical decision Aimed to health improvement. The same treatment strategy is available and widely prescribed to every patient who makes the decision to live better and healthier life through their natural aging proccess. Any performance advantage results not from the use of medication, but from the athlete’s unshaken discipline and absolute dedication to an extremely demanding training routine, nutrition and resting impeccable. In the name of his passion for the sport and dedication to his fans, my patient made the decision to interrupt his health treatment. We are going to need 90 days to adapt Vitor’s treatment and nutrition in order to support his extremely hard training routine – This is what makes Victor one of the best fighters on UFC history and the most dedicated athlete I’ve ever had the honor to work with.
Prior to the events of last week, Belfort made it seem as if he needed the testosterone treatment for the sake of his health. As he told MMAJunkie back in June, “Low testosterone is something that can cause serious health problems and even death. You can have problems, big problems, if it’s untreated. So the treatment is for you to live longer and have a better life by having less health problems.”
Are those health issues he spoke about no longer a concern? Or is a match-up against Weidman, and the paycheck he’d earn for it, worth more than the “serious health problems and even death” he had once said he’d be facing without TRT in his life? Does Belfort actually need the TRT or doesn’t he?
It is in these questions, and the complete lack of answers in each new statement he posts to social media, where Belfort’s shadiness resides. And thanks to that deal with the Devil now being up, it’s a shadiness that’s staring us right in the face.
Ugly, isn’t it?