Vitor Belfort unlikely to return to MMA, sees boxing as a more favorable sport for fighters

USA TODAY Sports Media Group
USA TODAY Sports Media Group

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Vitor Belfort is enjoying his venture in boxing and he’s not looking back.

The former UFC champion sees a return to MMA unlikely and plans to finish out his fighting days in professional boxing. Belfort returns to competition Sept. 11 when he takes on former world champion and boxing Olympic gold medalist Oscar De La Hoya at a Triller event in Los Angeles. It will be Belfort’s second professional boxing match; he debuted in 2006 with a knockout win over Josemario Neves.

Although Belfort has stepped in the boxing ring before, the Brazilian made his fame and legacy fighting in the cage for the UFC and PRIDE.

MMA might hold a dear place in Belfort’s heart, but there are many reasons he has little interest in getting involved with the sport again.

“The answer is that it’s looking like (I’m) not (going to return to MMA),” Belfort told MMA Junkie. “It’s not changing or adapting to what we think it should. The rules are not there for us. They’re not adapting in a way that’s safe for the fighters.

“Right now, fighters are having a short career, and the more violent it is, the shorter it becomes. It’s better for the promoters, not so good for the fighters. Right now, and even (UFC president) Dana White has said it, this is a young man’s sport. But guess what? I’ll box any champion in MMA and I can beat them up in a boxing match.”

Belfort, 44, thinks the ability to work with commissions on rules for a fight in boxing is something that’s in the interest of aging fighters and that’s something that can’t be found in MMA. He also finds the sport to be less taxing on the body compared to MMA.

“(MMA is) good just for certain people in their 20s,” Belfort said. “I feel like when you become a little older, it’s too hard on your body, so it’s hard to stay relevant for so long because the rules have never been reviewed. We’ve never changed the rules. The fighters are not involved. We don’t have a union. We don’t have (someone) protecting us fighters. We have to change something for the future. This will never be an Olympic sport the way it is right now.”

And on top of the positives he finds boxing has over MMA for its athletes, Belfort also thinks boxing is a sport suited for a wider audience.

“Boxing, there’s not too much blood,” Belfort said. “We want to have the whole family involved. It’s not too violent in the sense that athletes stay seven months out because he has a ligament problem because someone went after his knee. And people want to see the knockout. Boxing is art.”

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