Thursday, December 2, 2021

Belfort Says There Wouldn’t Be A Conor McGregor If Not For Him

Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort has suggested he laid the groundwork in MMA for stars like Conor McGregor to emerge.

Belfort, who fought across three different weight classes in the UFC, debuted in MMA in 1996 and is widely regarded as one of the sport’s pioneers. “The Phenom” challenged for UFC gold four times and defeated some of the best fighters in the promotion’s history, including Wanderlei Silva, Randy Couture, Anthony Johnson, Michael Bisping, and Luke Rockhold.

And despite seeing a drop in performance in his final years in the UFC, Belfort says that without him, stars like Conor McGregor and Tyron Woodley wouldn’t exist in the sport.

While speaking with Helen Yee ahead of his upcoming bout with Oscar De la Hoya, Belfort suggested his fight with the former boxing world champion pits the top men from each sport together. According to the former 205-pound champ, he led the way for the likes of “The Notorious” McGregor to become successful.

“This fight stands out from everything else. We’re looking for a guy who’s the Moses of boxing, the guy who’s the Moses of MMA. We opened the Red Sea of both sports. The reason we have all these guys: McGregor, Woodley, and you name it is because of me. I opened the Red Sea. I was the motivation for them jumping in.”

Belfort added that De La Hoya played a similar role in the sport of boxing. According to the Brazilian, the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez wouldn’t have made it to the top without “The Golden Boy.”

“If it wasn’t for Oscar, Mayweather would not be there. He was the first boxer to become a promoter and discovered other boxers like Canelo. So I’m very excited to see this playing out.”

Oscar De La Hoya Vitor Belfort
(via AP/Zuffa LLC)

Belfort currently boasts a 1-0 record in professional boxing. His one and only appearance came against Josemario Neves in 2006. The UFC great won the fight by way of a knockout in the opening round. 15 years later, Belfort is set to challenge De La Hoya, who boasts a 39-6 record and won 11 world titles in six weight classes before his retirement in 2008.

The bout, which will take place under the Triller banner, is set to go down on September 11. Belfort, who opened as a slight favorite, has dubbed his upcoming return to boxing as “the biggest fight ever.”

Do you think Vitor Belfort was responsible for the rise of MMA stars like Conor McGregor?

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