Amid a few days of rumors, speculation, and social media teasers, news broke Thursday that long-time MMA veteran, Vitor Belfort signed with ONE Championship. Belfort last competed for inside the octagon for the UFC. His last bout for the North American organization came at UFC 224 when he battled fellow Brazilian and friend, Lyoto Machida.
Unfortunately for Belfort, the bout ended in brutal fashion as Machida landed a front-kick which directly connected with the chin of Vitor Belfort. The kick shut off Belfort and his consciousness. It was a stunning knockout, one that stung more considering that Belfort announced his retirement ahead of the bout. He told the UFC Unfiltered podcast (the Official UFC podcast) that his fight with Machida would be his last.
Another Addition to the ONE Roster
Despite those words, Belfort is back. Now signing with the Singapore based organization, ONE Championship. With Belfort on the roster, promotion president and CEO, Chatri Sityodtong adds another big North American name to his roster. The executive already has retired fighters Rich Franklin and Miesha Tate working executive roles in the organization. ONE Championship also has active fighters Eddie Alvarez, Sage Northcutt, and Demetrious Johnson signed to their roster. Upon the signing, Sityodtong had many words of praise and excitement pertaining to the news.
“It is with great pleasure and honor that I welcome Vitor Belfort into the ONE Championship family. Vitor is hands down, one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. He is a legend across the world, and we are thrilled to have him as ONE expands into South America. A World Champion in multiple weight divisions, Vitor is a massive addition to our ever-growing roster of ONE Championship elite athletes. I cannot wait to see his explosive power and his exciting knockout finishes inside the ONE cage.”
The Long Time Legend
Belfort has been involved with MMA since he was a very young man. The Brazilian first appeared for the UFC in 1997 at UFC 12. There the highly touted young fighter took on Tra Telligman. Belfort defeated Telligman after destructively cutting his American opponent in the very first round.
At a press conference in Las Vegas, Belfort spoke to media about the signing.
“I have been in this sport since I Was 19 years old, and have been fortunate enough to witness its growth and evolution firsthand. I am grateful to so many for this incredible opportunity. First of all, I would like to thank my wife, Joana and my children Davi, Victoria, and Kraya for their infinite love and support. My management, Lloyd Pierson and Ballengee Group, guided me through this process with unmatched expertise. I would like to, of course, thank Chatri Sityodtong and ONE Championship, who gave me this great honor to fight in front of the Asian audience. ONE Championship is the home of martial arts, and I plan to become a ONE World Champion in front of some of the best martial arts fans in the world.”