Posts Tagged ‘Vitor Belfort’

Dana White: ‘If you have to use TRT, you’re probably too old to be fighting’

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UFC president Dana White hopes to ban testosterone replacement therapy from MMA. (AP)

UFC president Dana White hopes to ban testosterone replacement therapy from MMA. (AP)

MONTREAL — From Chael Sonnen to Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir to Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort to Rampage Jackson and beyond, mixed martial artists at the sport’s highest level have successfully persuaded state athletic commissions to OK medical exemptions for them to use testosterone replacement therapy.

But Dana White has a different message for those fighters: “If you have to use TRT, you’re probably too old to be fighting.”

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  • Published On Mar 15, 2013
  • UFC suspends Thiago Tavares for failed drug test, reveals Vitor Belfort’s use of TRT

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    Thiago Tavares has been suspended 9 months after failing a drug test. (AP)

    Thiago Tavares has been suspended 9 months after failing a drug test. (AP)

    It was Friday evening, a little over 24 hours before a featherweight championship bout in Las Vegas that the UFC was hyping as a superfight. But the chatter in the various online meeting places of mixed martial arts fans was about a different fight, one that took place nearly two weeks earlier and 6,000 miles away.

    The circulating rumor that Vitor Belfort had failed a drug test following a Jan. 19 victory eventually reached Michael Bisping, who had a vested interest in the matter because he was Belfort’s opponent in that middleweight bout in Sao Paolo, Brazil. In fact, had Bisping won that night, he’d have earned a shot at the division’s champion, Anderson Silva. But the Brit had his hopes doused and his senses scrambled by a second-round head kick that led to a Belfort TKO.

    Now Bisping was wondering if he’d been in a fair fight. “About a certain someone who I fought recently failing his drug test,” he wrote on Twitter. “I hope it’s not true.”

    Well, it’s not.

    UFC president Dana White insisted over the weekend that while there had been an “irregular” test result, it did not involve Belfort. And on Wednesday the fight promotion issued a press release announcing that the failed drug test belonged to lightweight Thiago Tavares, whose results showed the presence of the anabolic steroid Drostanolone. The substance did not exactly enhance the 28-year-old Brazilian’s performance, as he was knocked out in less than two minutes by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Tavares was handed a nine-month suspension by the UFC, which assisted the new Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA, or Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission, in overseeing regulatory aspects of the event.

    However, that’s not the end of the story. In the same press release, the UFC revealed that Belfort competed while undergoing an approved regimen of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Vitor has been evasive whenever questions about TRT have been raised. And when he met with reporters prior to Saturday night’s fights in Las Vegas, and Bisping’s accusatory tweet was mentioned, the 37-year-old implied that what you see is all natural. “I think people get jealous,” he said with a smile, “when a guy at my age is destroying these people getting title shots.”

    Jealous, perhaps, or maybe just uncomfortable. Belfort has broken no rules. Neither has Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, Frank Mir or anyone on the growing list of MMA fighters who’ve received athletic commission exemptions to use TRT to maintain their testosterone levels. But make no mistake: Legal or not, that’s a performance enhancing substance, allowing an aging veteran to punch and kick like a younger man. And when you see a KO like the one Belfort put on Bisping, you’ve got to wonder when this sport will take a stand. What’s at risk in MMA, after all, is much greater than in other sports. The worst thing a baseball player on a PED can do is wreck some pitcher’s ERA. An enhanced fighter poses a far scarier threat.

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Feb 06, 2013
  • No X-ray yet, but Jones says his arm is ‘pretty messed up’ after UFC 152 win

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    Jon Jones skipped the hospital after his UFC 152 win. (

    TORONTO — Jon Jones has landed in Baltimore by now. His injured right arm is still in a holding pattern.

    The UFC light heavyweight champion, fresh off Saturday night’s gritty title defense against Vitor Belfort, was en route to watch his brothers play in Sunday night’s Patriots-Ravens game, tired and sore but with his arm no longer in the sling he wore to the post-fight press conference 10 hours earlier.

    Does that mean the X-ray he was said to be heading for after leaving Air America Centre at around 2 a.m. had revealed no damage? Not at all.

    “I haven’t got it X-rayed yet,” Jones told me just before boarding his Baltimore-bound flight at Pearson International Airport. I’d spotted him in the waiting area, reclining his 6-feet-4-inch frame across a row of seats and catching up on lost sleep from his late night. In fact, if I hadn’t gone over and nudged him after hearing a boarding call for his flight, he might not have made it to see Arthur Jones and the Ravens take on rookie Chandler Jones and the Patriots.

    The first thing I noticed when Jones sat up was that the sling was missing. “I had to take it off so I could switch shirts,” he said, rubbing the arm as he spoke. “But the arm is pretty messed up. My hand is still swollen, and the whole arm is jacked up.”

    Why no X-ray, then? “I just didn’t want to go to the hospital last night,” said the 17-1 champion, whose victory was his eighth straight, the last four of them title defenses against past champions. “I was pretty excited about the win, and I just didn’t want to spend the night in a hospital.”

    When does he plan to get his arm examined? “I’m going to Baltimore to watch football, and maybe I’ll get the arm checked out while I’m there,” he said. “Or I might wait until I get home. I’m just trying to keep pressure off of it and deal with the pain until I can get to a doctor and see what’s going on with it. The pain is definitely bearable, though, so I’m not in any rush.”

    The injury occurred in the first round of Saturday night’s UFC 152 main event, when Belfort locked on an armbar and came closer to finishing the indomitable Jones than anyone he’s fought. “I’ve never had my arm pop like that before,” the 25-year-old said in the cage after the fight. He also let it be known that there was no way he was going to tap out, saying, “I worked too hard to give it up.”

    So he escaped the submission attempt and fought on. His arm was numb, we later learned, but as the fight was unfolding there was no visual evidence that he was any worse for wear. Jones didn’t favor his right arm or shy away from using it. In fact, the right elbow was a primary weapon as he cut up Belfort and dominated the resolute Brazilian before finishing the job with a submission of his own 54 seconds into the fourth round. It was only in the in-cage interview afterward that we learned of the damage that had been done.

    Then, nearly an hour later, after arriving late for the post-fight press conference with his arm in a sling, Jones said he’d been told by medical personnel at the arena that he might have sustained nerve damage to his biceps. “That’s what someone there had guessed,” he clarified on Sunday. “But it’s hard to say anything official by just looking at it.”

    Whatever the injury diagnosis ultimately might be, Jones is unlikely to feel sorry for himself. He’s had a lot of practice lately in dealing with adversity. Over the past several weeks, in the wake of his decision to not accept a replacement opponent and save a UFC event from cancellation, he’s been assailed by fight promotion president Dana White as well fans and other fighters. He persevered through that painful episode, as he did through an excruciating armlock applied Saturday night by a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

    “Yeah, absolutely, man,” said Jones. “It’s good to know that you can overcome. It takes a lot of strength and power every time you run into a different situation, so I’m grateful for the situations.”

    Indeed, Jones was in good spirits as we spoke. He lit up when the arts critic in me gave his choice of walkout music — Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” — a rave review, not just for entertaining the fans and getting them clapping along instead of booing him, but also for subtly conveying the song’s message: the importance of remaining loving and true to oneself no matter how much others try to change or control you. “The music,” said Jones, “did exactly what we hoped it would.”

    And with that song in his head Jones was off to Baltimore, ready for some football, but not until he’d thanked me for waking him so he didn’t miss his flight. Before heading to the gate he reached out to shake hands … with his left.

    –Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Sep 23, 2012
  • Jones, White spar over details surrounding UFC event cancellation

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    Jon Jones denied responsibility for UFC 151′s cancellation. (

    TORONTO — The dance begins with one fighter walking out onto the stage, stripping down to his skivvies and stepping onto the scale. When his weight is announced, he flexes for the crowd, then moves off to the side and dresses while his opponent walks out, strips, weighs in, flexes, dresses. The two meet at center stage, face to face, fists up, striking a combative pose for the cameras. And after a dozen shutter clicks they’re done, off to rehydrate. Next set of fighters, please?

    There may be no element of a mixed martial arts event more choreographed than the weigh-ins.

    So how did light heavyweight champion Jon Jones end up having an off-the-script moment Friday afternoon after stepping off the scale?

    It came about when Jones found himself staring into the eyes of not one but two people ready to go face to face with him. One was Vitor Belfort, who’ll be his opponent in the main event of UFC 152 on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre (10 p.m. ET, PPV). The other was Dana White.

    The UFC president and his 205-pound megastar had been sparring verbally for weeks, ever since Jones, upon being notified nine days prior to UFC 151 that challenger Dan Henderson was injured, turned down replacement opponent Chael Sonnen. The UFC ended up cancelling the Sept. 1 event — a first in the 11 years White has been running the show — and a fired-up White went on the offensive, calling Jones “selfish and disgusting” and his trainer/adviser/guru, Greg Jackson, “a [expletive] sport killer.”

    As this weekend’s event neared, with Jones having been added to the top of the bill, he and White indicated that they would meet face to face here in Toronto to clear the air. The meeting was to take place just prior to the weigh-ins. So all eyes were on Jones as he stepped off the scale. Would he and White shake hands or even embrace, an indication that the cold war was over? Or would an icy chill pervade the stage set up atop a hockey rink at the old Maple Leaf Gardens, telling us that Dana might not have renewed his membership in the Jonny Bones Fan Club?

    What we saw instead from Jones was an uncharacteristic moment of uncertainty. This phenom fighter who never hesitates to attack inside the octagon seemed to waver when he spotted White. Then he smiled, White smiled, even Belfort smiled, and the choreography resumed.

    What did it all mean? It meant that Jones and White had not yet met. They apparently planned to do so a few minutes later. And say what? “None of your business,” White responded when asked that very question in a Fuel TV interview following the weigh-ins.

    We can at least surmise that the discussion explored areas of disagreement. A case in point: At a Thursday press conference, Jones spoke respectfully of the boss — “Dana White is awesome, man” — but steered clear of accepting responsibility for the UFC 151 fiasco. “I have actually zero power to cancel an event,” he said. “When I was actually talking to Dana and [UFC chairman/CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] about accepting the Chael Sonnen fight, they never told me if I didn’t accept the fight that they were going to cancel the event.”

    It would have been interesting to hear White respond to that, but he was absent from the press conference, laid up at his hotel with an episode of Ménière’s disease. But in the Fuel TV interview, Dana had his say. “I don’t think he would have said that if I was there,” said White. “So today we’re going to be face to face and we’ll see what he says and what he doesn’t say. The fact that he says that he didn’t know that the show would get cancelled is false. I did tell him that the show would be cancelled.”

    And with that, White headed off to a windowless room with his light heavyweight champ. And then? Nothing. Nada. Not a word. (OK, chief, you can deactivate the Cone of Silence now.) My colleague from Yahoo! Sports, Kevin Iole, texted White to ask about the meeting and got this terse text back: “It went well.” Other than that, White, who posts his thoughts on Twitter about as often as he takes a breath, has gone quiet. So has Jones, unless we can read something into his only post-meeting tweet, a quote attributed to Michael Jordan: “Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”

    So stay tuned. Like any long-running soap opera, there’s always another episode to come.

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Sep 22, 2012
  • Ticket sales lagging ahead of UFC 152, more notes from pre-fight presser

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    Jon Jones (left) defends his UFC light heavyweight championship on Saturday night in Toronto against Vitor Belfort. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

    TORONTO – The two most telling moments during the UFC 152 press conference Thursday afternoon at a sports bar in the shadow of Air Canada Centre, where the Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort light heavyweight title bout and the rest of the fight card will go down Saturday night, came at the very beginning and right at the end.

    One of the first things emcee Tom Wright, the director of operations for UFC Canada, told us was that tickets are still available. So even with two championship bouts on the bill — we’ll also see Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson vie to become the UFC’s first flyweight belt holder — this fight organization that less than a year and a half ago sold 55,000 seats at the Rogers Centre in a matter of minutes is having trouble filling an 18,000-seat arena down the block. That’s especially troubling considering the coinciding lack of competition at a time of year when people in these parts typically would be huddled around ice rinks. As Wright said, alluding to the ongoing NHL lockout, “We may not have Hockey Night in Canada, but we can have UFC night in Canada and we’ll fill that void.”

    Just maybe not fill all of it.

    Wright also ended the media gathering with something telling, though not concretely so. Just before having the six fighters on the dais square off for the sea of cameras in the room, he told the assembled reporters and fans that there will be another press conference next Thursday in Montreal to announce that Georges St-Pierre will defend his welterweight championship against interim belt holder Carlos Condit at the Nov. 17 event in that city.

    Did it not occur to Tom that scheduling a press conference to announce news that he’s just revealed renders the forthcoming publicity event not so newsworthy? Of course he understood that. This was simply another demonstration of the UFC team’s grasp that news need not necessarily be the only information being dispensed at its press conferences. The most vital information we ingest when a group of fighters sits before us two days before the cage door closes on them is more amorphous. If we’re lucky, we get a feeling in our bones about what these fighters are feeling in their bones.

    We got some of that on Thursday:

    You can count on him: The hour-long hypathon morphed into a lovefest at times. Jones likes and respects Belfort, who likes and respects him. Benavidez and Johnson enjoy each other’s company to the point that they’ve gone to a concert together (more on that later). And Michael Bisping and Brian Stann made nice, too.

    Until the very end, that is, when all the words had been said and all that was left was the photo op. Michael Bisping had to do something to spice things up, or he wouldn’t be Michael Bisping. So when he and Stann met at center stage for the cameras, Stann approached it as a ceremony while Bisping saw an opportunity. He put on his best mean mug and pushed his forehead into Stann’s, moving the Marine onto his heels a bit. Stann seemed a bit taken aback, and as he stepped aside, Bisping posed once more for the cameras and walked away, pointing at his opponent and telling anyone within listening range that Stann “has the look of a man who knows he’s beat.”

    I don’t know that Stann is a beaten man in the fight. But in the hype game he’s an amateur next to “The Count.”

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  • Published On Sep 21, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 152

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    Jon Jones (above) is a lopsided favorite in Saturday’s light heavyweight title defense against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in Toronto. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC) analysts Dave Doyle, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 152 on Saturday in Toronto.

    Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort

    DOYLE: I’m tempted to take Belfort simply for contrarian purposes. But I can’t ignore the 13-1 odds and a motivated Jones, who will add another former champ to his list of victims. Jones by TKO.

    HUNT: The 25-year-old Jones’ biggest threat is himself at the moment. If he doesn’t allow Dana White’s bullying tactics to taint his mental state, he has the speed to evade, then stop the elder Belfort, a four-week replacement coming off May surgery for a broken hand. Jones by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: I want to believe that Belfort can make this a fight, maybe just because Vitor believes it so vehemently. He does have the explosiveness and just-go-for-it mentality necessary to make Jones uncomfortable. But all who’ve stepped in with the champ have said they’re going to take it to him, and then when their moment finally comes, they’re mesmerized by his length, strength and avant-garde athleticism. Jones by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: We’re surprised how many fans are giving Belfort a puncher’s chance. You have to think some of this owes to Jones’ rejection of the Chael Sonnen fight and the (largely successful) smear campaign by the UFC. Jones is simply better than Befort in every conceivable way — not to mention younger, more athletic, and more on the line. Jones by TKO.

    Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson

    DOYLE: This has Fight of the Night potential. Johnson absolutely can win, but I think Benavidez’s power at 125 will make the difference. Benavidez by TKO.

    HUNT: I thought Johnson was champion material when he faced 135-pound titleholder Dominick Cruz a year ago. He had the skill set and speed to match Cruz’s crazy pace nearly move for move. He only lacked the power — something that should correct itself now that he’s moved down to the UFC’s recently-introduced flyweight division. Johnson by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: My prediction? Speed. Oh, you want to know who wins and gets to make history as the UFC’s first 125-pound champion? I’m going to go with the guy who’s beaten every fighter he’s been in with other than indomitable 135-pound champ Dominick Cruz. Benavidez by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Intriguing fight that has the potential to be a great one. Johnson’s superior speed will be the difference in the Fight of the Night. Johnson by decision.
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  • Published On Sep 20, 2012
  • Silva suddenly rooting against Jones? OK, it’s not much … but it’s a start

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    Jon Jones (left) and Anderson Silva are friends, but Silva will root against Jones at UFC 152. [Jason Merritt/Getty Images]

    So we’re finally going to see Anderson Silva going against Jon Jones.

    No, the UFC middleweight and light heavyweight champions, the No. 1 and No. 2 fighters in every mixed martial arts pound-for-pound ranking outside of Georges St-Pierre’s parents’ house, have not agreed to square off inside the octagon. They doused the rising fan groundswell for a superfight a couple of months ago by basically walking arm-in-arm singing “You’ve Got a Friend” in two-part harmony.

    But while “Bones” is too close of a friend for Silva to fight, Jon is apparently not so tight of an amigo that “The Spider” refuses to root against the guy. Amigo is “friend” in Portuguese, which is the language of Brazil, where Silva is from. And where Jones’ next opponent, Vitor Belfort, is from.

    “As a Brazilian, I’ll be rooting for the Brazilian, even though I have a very good friendship with Jon Jones,” Silva said when asked about the UFC 152 title fight during an appearance on the Brazilian television show Bem, Amigos! (there’s that “friend” word again) earlier this week. “Whenever I’m with [Jones], I ask him to conduct his career in a different way, because he is very young and is always asking me something. But I’ll be rooting for Brazil, yes. May the best man win, but I’m rooting for Brazil.”

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  • Published On Aug 30, 2012
  • Wanderlei Silva gets new foe (Rich Franklin), attacks old one (Vitor Belfort)

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    Bye-bye, Brazil. (And hello, Plan C.)

    Just five weeks ago, UFC president Dana White and mouthy middleweight Chael Sonnen, slated to challenge champion Anderson Silva for the belt, flew all the way to Rio de Janeiro to appear at a press conference with Silva and announce that the much-anticipated rematch would not take place in Brazil, as scheduled, but was being moved to Las Vegas.

    Because Rio was playing host to a United Nations sustainability conference the week of June 23, it wasn’t feasible to hold a stadium-sized event in the city that night. So Silva-Sonnen II was shifted to the States, and UFC 147 was moved 200 miles north to an arena in Belo Horizonte, to be headlined by a clash of a couple of other national MMA treasures, Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort.

    Well, so much for Plan B.

    On Saturday night, talking to reporters after still another Brazilian dynamo, Junior dos Santos, had successfully defended his heavyweight belt, White revealed that he’d just been informed Belfort had broke his left hand in training. The fight was off. (Sort of.)

    Silva got a new opponent Wednesday, as the UFC announced that Rich Franklin will step in to face “The Axe Murderer” in a 190-pound catchweight fight on the June 23 card. Franklin had been scheduled to fight Cung Le two weeks later at UFC 148.

    Perhaps this new Plan C will shift Silva’s focus away from attacking Belfort, his opposing coach on the first Brazilian edition of The Ultimate Fighter reality-TV show. In the days following the news reports that Belfort had to pull out of their fight because of injury, Silva continued to unleash his fury.

    “I guess you got scared of me,” Silva raged via Twitter on Tuesday. (He was writing in Portuguese, but the Brazilian magazine Tatame provided a translation.) “Nobody trains so hard that [he] breaks his hand. We use the best equipments, gloves, bandages. If you were scared, you shouldn’t have accepted [the fight]. If you really got it broken, it’s amateurism. And if you didn’t, you’re scared. In both scenarios, it was irresponsible of you towards the fans.”

    Those are some curious accusations from Silva, who as recently as two years ago injured himself during training and had to pull out of a fight. How “irresponsible” for him to have forgotten that. And Silva’s memory clearly does not extend back 14 years, when Belfort was so “scared” of being in the cage with him that he knocked out Silva in 44 seconds. That was when Wanderlei was Wanderlei, too. In recent years he’s been a shell of his fearsome old self, losing six of his nine bouts since 2006. One of those defeats was a 2009 unanimous-decision loss to Franklin, who apparently was not too scared to step up on short notice for a rematch.

    – Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On May 30, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 142

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    Jose Aldo is the prohibitive favorite Saturday to defend his featherweight championship against Chad Mendes at UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro. (AP) analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 142 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.

    José Aldo vs. Chad Mendes

    FOWLKES: If Mendes actually manages to go on the attack early, he could be the toughest test the champ has had in the UFC. In the end though, Aldo’s speed and ability to adjust mid-fight will make the difference. Aldo by decision.

    HUNT: Aldo has more tools in his arsenal to thwart the grinding wrestler. Aldo by decision. 

    WAGENHEIM: Mendes might have what it takes to put the champ in an uncomfortable position, but fighting in Brazil will provide an adrenaline rush that’ll keep Aldo in his comfort zone no matter what. Aldo by decision.

    WERTHEIM: If Aldo, a WEC refugee, can defend the takedown and avoid Mendes superior wrestling, he should win by decision. Simply the more skilled all-around fighter. Aldo by decision.

    Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson

    FOWLKES: As long as Johnson can stay conscious past the three-minute mark of round one, I like his chances to outwrestle and outwork Belfort, who’s been known to fade when he doesn’t finish fast. Johnson by decision.

    HUNT: In my book, Belfort will forever have one of the fastest, most accurate set of hands in the sport. Johnson’s debut at middleweight will show promise, but I like Belfort’s experience and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) centeredness going into this one. Belfort by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: A bulked-up Johnson is not to be taken lightly — nyuk, nyuk — but the heaviest things we’re going to see in the octagon during this bout will be Belfort’s punches. Belfort by KO.

    WERTHEIM: Belfort will be the crowd favorite but there’s a lot of mileage on that odometer. A likely fight of extremes: Either Belfort by electrifying TKO or Johnson by pedestrian sprawl-and-stall decision. We’ll take the latter. Johnson by decision.

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  • Published On Jan 13, 2012