Vitor Belfort has declined to fight any non-title matches.
Belfort, who is coming off of back-to-back wins at two UFC on FX main events, recently turned down an offer to fight Tim Kennedy. Joana Prado, Belfort’s wife and manager, said he is the top middleweight contender and that it doesn’t make sense for him to fight any one other than the champion. She also said Belfort would fight anyone, including Kennedy, at a higher weight — even all the way to heavyweight.
UFC President Dana White seemed fine with the decision, although he didn’t hide his frustration with the former light heavyweight champion.
“Vitor drives me crazy,” White said Wednesday in New York. “I’m not dealing with Vitor. [UFC chairman and CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] is dealing with Vitor.”
Despite that, he was ready to give Belfort what he wanted.
“Vitor doesn’t want [the Kennedy] fight. So I said, okay, let’s do him and Rashad [Evans] then [at light heavyweight],” White said. “He wants to fight at a heavier weight, let’s do him and Rashad. I haven’t heard back on that yet.”
That offer was shot down as it was made Thursday. Evans told ESPN.com that he will not face his teammate. Evans and Belfort two train together at Jaco Hybrid in Boca Raton.
“I won’t fight Vitor,” Evans said. “I won’t fight Thiago Silva. I won’t fight Cezar ‘Mutante’ Ferreira. I won’t fight anybody who I train with.”
The champion added, “I made that mistake before, and I won’t do that again. I lost a lot of relationships because I did that before.”
Evans used to train in Albuquerque at Team Jackson-Winkeljoht, counting light heavyweight champion Jon Jones as one of his teammates. The two eventually became friends and said they would never fight each other.
Things changed in April 2012 when the two fought for Jones’ title. The two traded insults leading up to the match, which Jones won by unanimous decision.
Whether a fight against Evans was one Belfort even considered is unclear, but he already has his sights set on Chael Sonnen. White didn’t understand the suggestion, saying that Sonnen hasn’t even fought yet. Sonnen will face off against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC on Fox Sports 1 on August 17 in Boston.
This is Vitor Belfort’s second time vying for the middleweight title. He last fought for the title at UFC 126 on February 5, 2011, but was knocked out in the first round by Anderson Silva. Since then, he has won four of his last five fights.
Who do you think Vitor Belfort should fight next?
[Photo credit: Por Acaso / Flickr]