The middleweight challenger Vitor Belfort said yesterday that his friendship with fellow Brazilian Anderson Silva will count for nothing when the pair lock horns in UFC112's main event. In Silva, underdog Belfort faces a fighter who has not lost since January 2006 and even that came via disqualification for an illegal move.
The 'Spider's' last true defeat, some 15 fights ago, will be more than half a decade ago when he crawls in the Abu Dhabi cage in April. For his part, Belfort is refusing to be discouraged. "It is always a case of anything can happen in the Octagon," he said. "We'll have to see. You have to be very careful when you are fighting a guy like Anderson, who is an expert in everything. "I will have to be professional, this is sport and not personal. You need to perform, compete and do your job - there's nothing personal about it."
Belfort, who tore apart Rich Franklin on his long-awaited return to the UFC last year, is preparing for Silva in the only way he knows how: by training hard and staying relaxed. "The more you train, the better results you get," said Belfort. "I trained very hard for the Franklin fight so I wasn't surprised how quickly I won. "[My punching's] not explosive, it's performance. What do you expect to see, Michael Jackson dancing?
"I am a relaxed man yes, but fighting is my job. My style is my style." Belfort's renowned hand-speed may have left contender Franklin battered and bruised, but Silva will be another test altogether. If the champion beats Belfort, how long he will be allowed, or want, to stay at middleweight is another question. Silva has already stepped up to light heavyweight twice successfully, and even a step down in weight is not altogether out of the question.
Ed Soares, Silva's manager, said on American television recently that his fighter was keen on agreeing a long-proposed super-fight against welterweight champion Georges St Pierre - the king of the division below Silva. "If that GSP fight is something that the fans want to watch, and it's going to be a big pay-per-view, it's going to be a big fight, we'll take it," explained Soares yesterday. Ultimately, it will be UFC president Dana White who makes the decision on Silva's future.
First though, he must face Belfort, who is philosophical when asked about his forthcoming opponent's future options. "Silva is an incredible fighter and he has to do what he thinks is best for him," said Belfort. "It is his decision. Everybody has their time, seasons come and go and he needs to choose what he needs to do. "For me, it's just amazing to be back in the UFC."