Mann Talk – let’s find old Vitor

Sometimes my girlfriend likes to push the issue. Over Christmas break I took part in one of time’s most honored relationship traditions – meeting the high school friends. Despite dating for over a year I had only met one of the friends, and it is safe to say I was a little bit nervous. The cocoons in my stomach hatched into full-fledged butterflies when one of the friends showed up wearing Georges St. Pierre’s signature Affliction shirt.

As I said, sometimes my girlfriend likes to push the issue and I knew the time was coming. At some point in the night, I was going to have to talk about what I do for a living. Normally, after I yadda yadda my day job, I simply throw out stuff like “I write about MMA” and the subsequent confused faces force me to say “you know that UFC stuff?” However, this time the woman wearing the Affliction shirt did not have the puzzled jeopardy music face.

To my surprise she was actually a fan of the sport. In my travels finding an Afflictionist who can name a fighter is rarer than the yeti or a Cung Le title defense. To prove her mettle she rattled off the names of several of her favorite fighters, one of which caught my attention – “old Vitor”

“That’s old Vitor!” Her inclusion of “old” Vitor intrigued me for two reasons. The first of which was, she had clearly been a fan of the sport for some time, and also it is interesting how deep this vision of Vitor Belfort really goes.

All MMA fans know the story, Belfort burst onto the scene as an eighteen year old with some of the fastest hands in the sports history. He finished his first four fights each in less than two minutes, but then he ran into the American buzzsaw that is Randy Couture. Since then Belfort has experienced an up and down career.

On June 6th, 2003 Belfort violently dispatched Marvin Eastman in only one minute and seven seconds. The barrage of punches and knees sparked UFC commentator Joe Rogan to shout “that’s old Vitor!” With every impressive win, fans and pundits alike expected the return of the phenom with the dangerously fast hands.

Old Vitor never fully returned and many consider him to be a shopworn fighter or simply someone who had been predicated on false hype sans substance. However a close examination of his career record shows that despite his short comings he is still an impressive fighter.

In his career Belfort has tasted defeat eight times. Let’s break them down.

– Randy Couture twice

– Chuck Liddell when he was dominating the division

– Kazushi Sakuraba in his prime

– Tito Ortiz in a fight many thought Belfort won

– Alistair Overeem twice both fights were lack luster

– Dan Henderson

Of all of his losses the only really shameful defeat was his second loss to Overeem, in which he relied on his butt scoot and did nothing in the fight. If the Strikeforce show had been on pay per view I would have demanded my money back.

Over the course of his career he has seventeen victories to go along with those defeats. Before the last Affliction card, many picked Terry Martin to win. As I watched Martin’s unconscious body fall through the ring ropes, I thought “what were they thinking?”

Belfort’s losses have come against the cream of the MMA crop and that is no reason to give up on a fighter. We may one day see the wild “old Vitor” that Joe Rogan talked about, but that is of course if Tank Abbot ever regains consciousness and walks into the cage again. However one thing is certain, when he fights Matt Lindland at Affliction 2, fans will be treated to a match up between two quality fighters. Vitor might be even be able to convince my girlfriend’s friend into buying a new t-shirt.

By:  Richard Mann

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