They say one man's misfortune is another man's gain.
Vitor Belfort can attest to that, as he was granted a Light Heavyweight title fight against Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) division kingpin, Jon Jones, despite not having competed in the weight class in more than five years, after Dan Henderson, Jones' original opponent, bowed out of the fight with a knee injury.
"The Phenom" wasn't exactly Zuffa's first choice as a potential replacement to face Jones on short notice. Chael Sonnen agreed to take the bout with only eight days to prepare, but "Bones" was having none of it.
Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua were then asked to take the fight against a man who has already beaten them convincingly before, but both "Shogun" and "The Dragon" declined the fight for their own personal reasons.
Scrolling down to number four on the rolodex, UFC's head honchos found Belfort, a 185-pound fighter with 15 fights inside the Octagon who has proven he will take on all comers. Even fighters who outweigh him significantly come fight night.
With a surprise title fight in place, the Brazilian bomber will have chance to reclaim the 205-pound title, which he won way back in Jan. 2004 be defeating Randy Couture, only to lose it to "The Natural" seven months later.
Belfort stopped by "The MMA Hour" today (Aug. 27, 2012) and gave his thoughts on his upcoming title fight with Jones:
"When I heard the show was going to get canceled, I offered myself. I text Lorenzo, ‘Lorenzo, you know me, I come from the old school, I just start my camp, if you need me to save the show to fight Jones, not to fight anybody else, because that's what people want to see, they want to see Jones fight ... if somebody got hurt, if you need me, just let me know. They trust me so much and I am a different type of guy, I accomplished so much things, I come from the old school and they know me, I am down to replace, I am used to that. The sport is evolved and these new fighters are worried about their careers and their status. I just want to go out there and fight and put up a great fight. I am ready most of the time and that's the way it is. You have to be secure and you have to be committed to the organization and the fans. And we are joyful for this opportunity, fighting one the best fighters of all time, this young champion Jon Jones."
Not one to act like a "diva," Belfort knows opportunities like this do not come around often, so the lethal striker will look to make the most of his great fortune, all while showing gratitude to the UFC for all they have done for him:
"Hey bro, my friend, why am I going to negotiate for, you know what I mean? I have a contract with the organization. I show them who I am by my attitude, not by my talk know what I mean? All that thing, negotiations, I just want to step (up) and do that for the fans. I am not worried with Lorenzo and trying to get more money and be greedy. No, I am doing this because I love the opportunity, I love the fans, I love the challenge and they are very generous. I know they are going to respect that. Lorenzo and Dana they are always be generous to me and all of the fighters and I'm just showing them my gratitude, know what I mean? When you do something from your heart, you can't negotiate feelings. I did that from my heart. I am very grateful and thankful and the opportunity itself is the prize. The challenge is the prize."
Belfort says he will rely on his experience to try and dethrone the young champion in Canada:
"I'm an old lion, I have tricks, you know what I mean? I've been around. I've take all kinds of beatings in life, not just inside Octagon, but outside as well. It's just using my experience and using my knowledge and getting ready. ... I like him (Jones) as well, he's very nice, very polite, so soft spoken, and a great athlete. That's good, the sport's getting bigger. How many guys from my era are around. Not much? How many guys from when I was fighting and winning my first title in '96, I don't know what Jon Jones was doing [then]. I'm privileged to fight a guy like him, It's a privilege to me. I never thought I'd be around that much, 17 years of a career, and having this chance for the light heavyweight title. It's a title that I had before in 2004. Here I am again with this opportunity."
"The Phenom" wants to do his part to make sure the UFC does not become like boxing, where fighters turn down fights all the time:
"I'm a legend. I'm a legend, I'm not a diva, that is why i take this fight. I'm ready man, I'm ready to bring what people like what the fans like, what UFC likes, what its all about. That's the UFC, its not boxing. We can not let the UFC become like boxing. This is the UFC, it's different, its all about the sport. I live for that. I'm one of the guys that helped build the sport so, I'm privileged to fight Jon Jones."
Jones and Belfort will lock horns at UFC 152 on Sept. 22, 2012, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which is only 26 days away.
Going from preparing for a fight against Alan Belcher to taking on one of the pound-for-pound best fighters on the planet doesn't seem to deter "The Phenom." With his one-punch knockout power and all around well-rounded mixed martial arts (MMA) arsenal, it's not too far-fetched to believe he has more than a puncher's chance.
According to Sonnen, all he has to do is believe in himself.
How about it Maniacs, what chances are you giving Belfort in upsetting Jones in Canada? Are your odds better than those of the professional odds makers? Can you appreciate the noble and humble approach Belfort is taking with him going into the fight?