On Tuesday, Vitor Belfort reflected on his 20-year journey in the sport of mixed martial arts.
I confess that 20 years ago I didn't think about the long term future. I was just a kid fighting for his passion … a barely known sport that I believed could become so big… I could only think about doing my best and thank God became the youngest champion ever. Now, looking back, I can understand what a great thing that boy achieved. The sport has grown, millions and millions of people fell in love with it, just like me. Thousands kids started dreaming about becoming a professional athlete. Thousands of job positions were created to support the the sport. I've got the nickname "Phenom", but the real Phenom is how much this have grown! I thank God, my family, friends and fans for all the support and love that you gave me. Today a mature man, I would like to share this belt with all of you. I've learned through out these 20 years that you can't win by yourself. That the Phenom hasn't been built by himself, but with the help of everyone who somehow helped me to evolve. I thank all of you with all my heart for being with me during these 20 years journey. And just for you to know: It's not over yet! I'm thirsty for victory! The Phenom is back! #20yearonthetop #belfortgym #teambelfort
Belfort posted a photo on his Instagram comparing himself today to when he made his UFC debut.
On Feb. 7, 1997, Belfort made his UFC debut in just his second professional MMA fight. At UFC 12, Belfort defeated two opponents on the same night to win the heavyweight tournament.
In his photo’s caption, Belfort reflected on his journey, shared his thoughts of how much the sport of MMA has grown and thanked his fans for their support.
“I’ve got the nickname “Phenom”, but the real Phenom is how much this have grown! I thank God, my family, friends and fans for all the support and love that you gave me. Today a mature man, I would like to share this belt with all of you. I’ve learned through out these 20 years that you can’t win by yourself. That the Phenom hasn’t been built by himself, but with the help of everyone who somehow helped me to evolve. I thank all of you with all my heart for being with me during these 20 years journey.”
Belfort also said his journey is not over yet and he is “thirsty” for victory. On March 11, Belfort will headline a UFC Fight Night event in his native Brazil. He will fight middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum.
Belfort is currently on a two-fight losing streak. In October, at UFC 204, Belfort lost to Gegard Mousasi by TKO. In May, at UFC 198, he lost another fight by TKO to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
When he fights Gastelum, it will be the 39th fight of Belfort’s illustrious career. Over the past 20 years, Belfort has won and lost against some of the best MMA fighters the world has had to offer including, Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Lidell, Tito Ortiz, Alistair Overeem, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Anderson Silva, Luke Rockhold, and Michael Bisping.