UFC 224 features a matchup of two Brazilian legends and future hall of famers as former UFC heavyweight champion Vitor ‘the Phenom’ Belfort (26-13 UFC, 15-10 MMA) takes on former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (23-8 UFC, 15-8 MMA) to kick off the main card in Rio de Janeiro.
After 22 long years of competing ‘The Phenom’ has seen it all. A UFC title, three subsequent failed UFC title bids, seven UFC fight-night bonuses, a UFC-record for knockouts (12), stints with organizations as PRIDE and Strikeforce, some drug-testing failures, a coaching stint on ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil’.
Belfort’s retirement was always around the corner however Belfort in a recent interview gave some what of a confusing statement explaining it.
“I’m not retiring because when you retire, you’re still getting paid,” he told MMAjunkie on Tuesday. “I’m not getting paid, so I’m not retiring. But this is my last fight.”
“That’s important because people say, ‘OK, what’s the legacy you’re leaving?’ Legacy is not what I did for myself. It’s what I’m doing for the next generation. So I think I’m leaving one of the biggest legacies in the sport, for sure, worldwide. And I’m not retiring because I’m not getting paid after I finish (fighting), so I’m looking for jobs. I’m looking for opportunities.”
“But this is my last fight, for sure, and I’m very content with what I accomplished in this sport. But I still believe I can contribute so much with the sport, and I love what the UFC is doing, creating the (UFC Performance Institute) and creating all that. But we have so much left to do.”
Belfort then said his true legacy would not be determined by just MMA but by his family.
“I think people are going to be interested to see this interview because they don’t see just the fighter,” he said. “And I think that’s important to understand. … My first priority is my kids and my wife – my family. I say I want to contribute to the world better, so how can I do it? It’s raising kids, raising kids with values, and understanding (in) society, people think different, they have different beliefs, different genders. So how can you raise these kids to bring to society some change?”
Belfort said he’ll always be a fighter inside or outside the octagon.
“Fighting? It’s in my DNA wherever I go,” he concluded.