Less than 24 hours after the reports of a UFC 224 meeting between Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida first surfaced, “The Phenom” has made it Instagram-official in typically contemplative Belfort-esque manner.
The bout between the compatriots and fellow former UFC champions, which is set for May 12 in Rio de Janeiro, will be the last one on Belfort’s UFC contract. His swan song was supposed to have happened last month, at UFC Fight Night 124, before illness forced would-be opponent Uriah Hall to withdraw in the last minute.
Now, Belfort gets to say goodbye in his home country. And, on top of it, he gets to send a message by doing it against a former UFC light heavyweight champion whom he praised not only as a friend of his, but also as “a good person and a family man.”
“Lyoto and I have known each other for many years, I know his family and we have trained together,” Belfort said in the post. “I wanted this fight to take place in Brazil because that is where everything started and now it’s time for us to send another message to the world. And the message is: respect.” (via Instagram)
“I’m over 20 years being relevant in this sport. I broke a lot barriers and paved the way for a generation after me. I am one of the pioneers of the sport and I’m proud it it. I could not walk into the octagon for the last time without sending a relevant message to the: athletes, fans and to the sport itself. That is the reason why I chose to fight a friend of mine. An athlete that I have a lot respect. A good person a family man. I’m against the so famous “trash talk”. MMA is a sport! A sport that myself and a lot of family men work really hard to support our families. Lyoto and I have known each other for many years, I know his family and we have trained together. I wanted this fight to take place in Brazil because that is where everything started and now it’s time for us to send another message to the world. And the message is: RESPECT! May 12th @lyotomachidafw and I will step into the octagon as professionals and we still be friends. Always respecting each other and the way we will do that is giving our best in the octagon. I want people to understand that you don’t have to be a bully to be a fighter, you have to be a real man. And that is exactly what the world is in need, real man willing to pay the price to make a difference.”
The main card of UFC 224 will air on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
This will be yet another quick turnaround for 39-year-old Machida (23-8 MMA, 15-8 UFC), who’s kept active since serving an 18-month suspension. Earlier this month, he bounced back from a three-fight skid with a split decision over Eryk Anders at UFC Fight Night 125. He came into the bout, which took place in his adopted home of Belem, off a UFC Fight Night 119 knockout loss to Derek Brunson.
Belfort (26-13 MMA, 15-10 UFC) also comes off a recovery win. The 40-year-old fighter was on a three-fight winless stretch before a decision over fellow vet Nate Marquardt in his native Rio. Prior to the cancellation of the bout with Hall, Belfort confirmed he was indeed hanging up his MMA gloves after a two-decade-long career.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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