Vitor Belfort is the Clear Frontrunner For Fighter of the Year

By Adam Martin

Since I know it’s inevitably going to come up, let me just start this article off by saying I am totally against the use of testosterone replacement therapy in mixed martial arts. I believe it is a loophole in the rulebook being exploited by athletes, and if I had my choice, its usage in MMA would be banned.

That being said, I still think Vitor Belfort is the clear frontrunner for fighter of the year.

I mean, there’s really no other choice. TRT or not, what Belfort has accomplished in the year 2013 has been nothing short of incredible, and I think we all need to put our disdain for TRT aside, and respect what this man has done in the cage.

First, it was a highlight-reel head kick knockout of Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7. Then, it was a spinning hook kick KO over Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8. And then at UFC Fight Night 32 this past weekend, it was a TKO head kick win over the legendary Dan Henderson, the very first time “Hendo” had been knocked out in his 40-fight career.

No other fighter in the UFC has accomplished what Belfort has done this year. Sure, there are fighters like Jon Jones (wins over Chael Sonnen and Alexander Gustafsson), Matt Brown (knockout wins over Jordan Mein and Mike Pyle), Demetrious Johnson (title defences over John Dodson and John Moraga), Anthony Pettis (finishes of Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson), Cain Velasquez (knockouts of Antonio Silva and Junior dos Santos), Jose Aldo (wins over Frankie Edgar and Chan Sung Jung), Urijah Faber (wins over Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen and Yuri Alcantara), and Chris Weidman (KO of Anderson Silva) who have all had phenomenal years in their own right, but none of those fighters listed have three stoppage wins like Belfort does, none of them have wins in two different weight classes, and none of them have three Knockout of the Night trophies to show for their work like Belfort does.

Beating Bisping, Rockhold, and Henderson is a big deal. Both Bisping and Rockhold were ranked in the top 10 of the middleweight class when Belfort finished them, and Henderson was ranked high up in the light heavyweight division when Belfort stopped him. These aren’t cans that Belfort has been taking on, this is the cream of the cream in the UFC’s 185-pound and 205-pound divisions, and Belfort deserves respect for what he’s done to them in the cage.

Some have said that if Brown can defeat Carlos Condit at UFC on FOX 9 for his seventh-straight win, then he is the clear frontrunner for fighter of the year. And he would have a good argument for that, especially if he knocks Condit out, but really, the argument for Belfort earning the honor is so much stronger and makes so much more sense that I think he has this honor already locked up even with seven weeks left in the year 2013.

Of course, the title of Fighter of the Year is a mythical honor bestowed on fighters by MMA writers on the internet, and Belfort’s real prize for his historical year is a middleweight title shot against the winner of UFC 168’s Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva, something which UFC president Dana White has already confirmed. And Belfort definitely deserves the shot, no doubt about it.

But for what it’s worth, I believe Belfort is the Fighter of the Year in 2013. Not bad for a 36-year-old who started his UFC career sixteen years ago, in 1997. Not bad at all.


UFC Fight Night 32: Belfort vs. Henderson 2 took place on November 9, 2013 at Goiania Arena in Goiania, Goias, Brazil.

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