Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight number one contender (we think) Vitor Belfort is ready to prove to the mixed martial arts (MMA) world that he's capable of kicking ass anywhere in the world. Even Las Vegas, Nevada, the home base of his current employer.
But there's a marked difference between wanting to fight in "Sin City" and actually getting a license to do so.
For starters, Belfort is currently participating in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), designed to correct a medical condition that will not only restore his physical abilities to their previous state, but also make it "fair" against his opponents.
In addition, "The Phenom" already failed a steroid test in Nevada back in 2006. Because low testosterone is one of the side effects of previous steroid abuse, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) has been unwilling to hand over a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for past offenders.
NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer "feels bad," but released a statement back in March (read it) that pretty much shot down Belfort's chances of getting a TUE.
His follow-up comments to MMA Fighting:
"Due to his past, Mr. Belfort would need to go before the Commission if he applies for a TRT TUE. This is not anything new. (For example, I would not administratively grant Antonio Margarito a contestant's license so he had to appear before the full Commission -- likewise, Dave Herman.) The Commissioners could grant (with or without condition), deny, or take other action on any such application."
UFC President Dana White is "calling bullshit."
Though Kizer doesn't have the final say, the Brazilian would have to appear before the commission and plead his case to all five members, who could grant him a license, tell him to hit the bricks, or figure out a way to give him a conditional license that would require a litany of random drug tests.
Piece of cake!
"It's easy," Belfort told the media at last weekend's press conference. "Chael Sonnen is fighting in Las Vegas. We here, we do everything by the book. We can get licensed, that's no problem."
Sonnen was popped by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) for elevated testosterone back in 2010; however, his positive drug test was the result of improperly disclosing his TRT to the commission on his pre-fight paperwork. His sentence was eventually cut in half.
Belfort was nailed for the anabolic steroid 4-Hydroxytestosterone.
Similar to Sonnen, Alistair Overeem was upended by a random drug test in early 2012, one that kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the year. "Demolition Man's" license was not suspended; however, the commission would not grant him a hearing for nine months.
Once they did, he was reinstated without prejudice.
That's probably what Belfort is hoping for if and when he returns to Las Vegas for a middleweight title shot. "The Phenom" hasn't seen U.S. soil in over two years and is currently enjoying a three-fight winning streak -- with three knockouts (like this one) -- competing in his native Brazil.
Where he claims the drug testing is event stricter than it is in Nevada.
The sooner we can get Belfort back to Las Vegas, the sooner we can get this lingering controversy put to bed. And if by chance a TUE is now granted for his planned title fight, then Belfort has agreed to stop using TRT, even if it makes the fight "unfair."
Now that's easy.