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'Still upset' Vitor Belfort apologizes to fans for UFC 187 loss, promises return to 'full strength' soon

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Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans haven't seen the last of Vitor Belfort in the Octagon even though the 38-year-old veteran suffered a significant setback in UFC 187's co-main event this past weekend.

"The Phenom," who lost to undefeated Middleweight champion Chris Weidman in just under three minutes via technical knockout (watch video highlights here), reached out to fans via his Instagram account to reassure them that much like the "Terminator," he will be back.

His message:

"I am always very happy, but I confess that I am still upset with my performance at UFC 187. I was going very well. I'd like to thank all of my family, friends, team, sponsors and fans for all the love and support. I love you all, but now I need to relax and be with my wife and kids. I will be back in full strength! I apologize to my Brazilian people and everyone around the world who is part of my time for not bringing the victory. It is great to have all of you with me here! I ask that God may bless every single one of you who cry and share laughs with me. See you soon!"

Belfort first competed at UFC 12 at the tender age of 19, quickly earning a reputation as a fearsome striker. After losing back-to-back fights to Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture in 2004-05, Belfort left the promotion for 5.5 years before returning with a vengeance to knockout Rich Franklin at UFC 103 in 2009.

"The Phenom" earned his most recent title shot with three consecutive quick finishes of top-ranked Middleweight contenders Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson, but his rise to the top (again) was not without controversy.

Belfort was expected to face Weidman at UFC 173, however he chose to withdraw from the fight following the Nevada State Athletic Commission's ban on exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and was replaced by Lyoto Machida.

The fighter subsequently revealed (read the statement here) that he had failed a random drug test in Feb. 2014 because of elevated levels of testosterone. Just prior to UFC 187, Combate.com revealed that a March 16 test showed Belfort's testosterone continued to be higher than "All American, despite being eight years older (38) and suffering from hypogonadism, a condition that prevents the body from producing adequate levels of testosterone.

Fans have suggested that without TRT the Brazilian would be unlikely to contend at the highest levels of the sport moving forward. And it's difficult to imagine how he can return to "full strength" with the current ban on TRT.

We might find out sooner than later, though, as he's already been invited back to the Octagon by Gegard Mousasi.

(Even more) Time will tell.