Belfort rises from the ashes

By Kevin Iole

LAS VEGAS – For years, there were always two things one could count on about Vitor Belfort: He was talented enough to defeat any fighter in the world, and he was apt to lose his concentration at the most inopportune times.

Belfort, by most standards, has had an enormously successful career. He’s a former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion and has wins over elite fighters such as Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin on his 19-8 record.

There has always been a sense, though, that what you got from Belfort wasn’t all you could get. He oozed with talent, suggesting there was another level he could reach when he was so inclined to push himself.

“Sugar” Ray Sefo, one of Belfort’s coaches at Xtreme Couture, conceded that Belfort was an enigma early in his career, when he entered the UFC at 19 and made jaws drop with things he could do in the cage.

“He was a very young guy and he went through life a lot like any other youngster, and his life took some turns and he wasn’t focusing 100 percent on his fighting,” Sefo said. “There are a lot of people in Brazil who doubt him because of his past. But he’s a changed fighter. Look at his last three or four fights. He’s knocked out everybody.”

But if he knocks out the next man he faces, Anderson Silva, when they meet on Saturday in the main event of UFC 126 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, he’ll capture the UFC middleweight championship and complete one of the great riches to rags to riches stories in mixed martial arts history.


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