Former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort has not called it a career just yet.
In talks with ONE Championships for the past couple of months, the ‘Phenom’ actually already has an opponent lined up to fight him, but needs to wait for the coronavirus pandemic to be under control before the company can set up a date for his return to mixed martial arts.
All healed up from a difficult shoulder surgery, Belfort talked about his next opponent in an interview with YouTube channel Asian MMA, Cameroonian striker Alain Ngalani, which Vitor will take on in a heavyweight match. Despite not having fought at the division since 2001, the Brazilian points out he prefers to focus on his strong suits, rather than on his opponent’s or on what can go wrong in the fight.
“I like it (the fight), he’s a very tough competitor. Very skilled and very strong. A big man, that’s what I’m looking for, a good challenge. It’s hard to see yourself in that situation. I’m focusing on what my skills are, what my strength is, not my weaknesses. I’m focusing on Belfort, not him. That’s a win for life. Right now, if you focus on COVID-19, you’re gonna be depressed. You have to think about what you can do to help COVID-19 be knocked down. It’s the same idea in life. You cannot focus on all the elements. Most people in the world today are thinking about things outside of their control, so much negativity. That’s disgusting, man. I focus on me, that’s all.”
Away from competition for the past two years, Belfort (26-14-1 NC) was knocked out by Lyoto Machida in his last outing, back in May 2018. Before that, the 43-year-old scored a unanimous decision win against Nate Marquardt, his first victory since 2015.
Ngalani (4-5) was TKO’d by Mauro Cerilli in his last outing, back March 2019, at ONE Championship - Reign of Valor. The 44-year-old’s last victory happened just before, in March 2018, when he edged out Tur-Ochir Ariunbold.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, ONE Championship has suspended all events through May, so as of the writing of this piece, there is no date on the foreseeable future for Belfort’s return.