In the main event of Saturday night’s UFC On FX 8, former Light Heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort demolished Luke Rockhold in the first round of their Middleweight fight. Belfort landed a beautiful spinning back kick that dropped Rockhold to start the finishing sequence. He followed up with frenetic ground and pound to get referee Leon Roberts to stop the fight.
Since it was revealed that Belfort was granted a TRT exemption, there’s been a ton of focus from fans and media on the resurgence of his career being directly to the TUE. Supporters of this argument point to Belfort’s devastating knockout of perennial almost-contender Michael Bisping earlier this year and now his big win over Rockhold in Jaragua Do Sol, Brazil.
However, this argument ignores Vitor’s fight history. Over the last 7 years, Belfort has only lost to Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, and Dan Henderson. In that same time, he’s dispatched of 8 opponents, 7 of them finished inside the first round. Early KOs aren’t a new thing for Belfort and he holds a record of 12 of them in the UFC. He’s widely known as a front-runner throughout his career. It’s elite fighters that can withstand his early onslaught that have always given Vitor trouble. That’s how Randy Couture beat him at UFC 15 and how Jon Jones beat him at UFC 152.
There remains the argument that the TRT has allowed the 36 year old fighter to stay competitive after 17 years in the fight game. But, as Vitor wasn’t exactly ‘falling off’ before picking up testosterone replacement therapy, fight fans really have no way of knowing how much an effect it’s had on his recent performances. If history is any indicator, we’ll continue to see Belfort dispatch of opponents without the chin or will to withstand his speed and power while top-notch opponents manage to avoid succumbing to his ferocious barrages of strikes. In short, Vitor’s recent success shouldn’t be solely credited to TRT, but rather he’s a very talented fighter that’s always fallen just short of becoming elite.
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