For the 24th time in his career, Vitor Belfort will step foot inside the Octagon on March 11. His opponent will be The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 17 middleweight winner Kelvin Gastelum. The bout will take place inside the Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil.
If “The Phenom” is to be believed, he wasn’t going to fight Gastelum at first. He told MMAJunkie.com that a top ten middleweight didn’t want to fight him:
“He asked for it, and he got it. That guy who’s fighting Anderson Silva (Derek Brunson) turned down a fight with me. My fight was going to be with Brunson, and he declined it. Gastelum, who was excited about his win, asked to fight me, and I said ‘yes’ right away.”
Light heavyweight bruiser Jimi Manuwa recently voiced his displeasure for fighters “cherry picking” their opponents. Belfort shares in the frustration.
“(My last opponents, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and Gegard Mousasi) are unfortunately struggling with a problem. Now nobody wants to fight them? How does that work? Now fighters pick their own fights. There’s no respect. People don’t want to be known for whom they fought against, they want to be known for how they fought. Odds of winning, odds of losing.”
The former 205-pound title holder didn’t stop there. He took aim at current middleweight champion Michael Bisping. “The Count” will be out until May with a knee injury, but Belfort isn’t buying it.
“Now we see that the titleholder is a wimp. A guy who doesn’t honor – ‘Oh, now I’m injured, I can’t fight. Jacare, I won’t fight you, I’ll fight the guy from the lower division (Tyron Woodley).’ This is a guy who’s picking fights. This is what he is leaving for his fans, a legacy of wimpiness. You can’t do that. When a guy is the champion, he needs to fight the best. I think that’s the real champion.””