UFC 224 main card kicks off with a ‘blast from the past’ kind of a match up as two Brazilian legends in former UFC heavyweight champion Vitor ‘the Phenom’ Belfort takes on former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto ‘the Dragon’ Machida.
The UFC first witnessed the ruthlessness of Vitor ‘the Phenom’ Belfort on his debut back at UFC 12 in 1997. With just one fight on his resume, the 19 year old Belfort who was a natural light heavyweight was scheduled to face a 233 pound monster Track Telligman. Belfort obviously was a massive underdog however he managed to stun the fans as the fight had to be stopped due to a cut and Belfort was declared the winner via TKO.
Belfort shocked the UFC 12 audience and the small MMA community back then. Little did they knew they would witness pure greatness right after this fight. Belfort’s fight with Telligman was the semi final of UFC’s heavyweight tournament. In the finale, Belfort was scheduled to face a big test against an opponent who was 90 pounds bigger than his already big previous opponent in Scott Ferrozzo. People counted out Belfort however what happened next took the MMA community by storm. As the bell rang, 19 year old ran through his opponent defeating him via TKO in just 43 seconds.
After a legend like Royce Gracie who was elegant in his craft, young Brazilians got a dangerous inspiration to consider as a pioneer. Among those young kids was former Strikeforce Middleweight champion and BJJ maniac Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza who happens to be the co-main event of the same UFC 224 card. Souza collided with Belfort at the UFC 224 open workouts and narrated his feelings back then.
Being nostalgic he said, “So back when I was in Manaus, we started watching Royce (Gracie). And then we saw that one tape of his, and we were like ‘Dude! A 19-year-old kid won a fight in the UFC!’, everyone was so stoked for the magazine to arrive. We’d run up to the booth, ‘When will it get here?’, when it finally arrived the guy was unpacking the boxes and we just swarmed and started grabbing the magazine. We lore through the magazine, ‘That guy won! He’s the champion of the UFC! Nineteen years old!’. Everyone in Manaus, man.” (via Instagram):
Jacare concluded saying, “People can say a lot of things, but few will do what you have done. Man, I wish you the best of success. You inspired so many people.”