Vitor Belfort: The TRT-Rex in a new jungle

Picture1_crop_northVitor Belfort is one of those rare athletes who has been able to compete across more than one generation successfully. Who would have thought the muscle bound, lightning fast 19 year old who steamrolled his way to winning the UFC 12 Heavyweight tournament in 1997 would be a serious contender for both fighter and knockout of the year a whopping 16 years later?

Unfortunately, Belfort has become a very controversial figure throughout his career both for his testing positive for banned substances as well as his use of testosterone replacement therapy. For those who don’t know, TRT suppresses the natural decline in testosterone men experience as they age. However there is a darker side to this, one which is associated with Belfort himself. Individuals who have previously used steroids or similar substances can develop issues with producing natural testosterone and even fall into ill health as a result of this. The therapy corrects this hormone imbalance therefore allowing the fighter to train and compete as if the steroid use had never happened.

This has led to fighters such as Jon Jones and Michael Bisping to fall only slightly short of labelling Belfort a cheat, arguing that the advantages of the therapy provide a fighter with an unfair edge in competition. However valid that point may be to say TRT is the sole reason for Belfort’s continued success does the man a great disservice.

It’s very easy to discredit Vitor, easy to act as though the TRT has somehow also given him the hunger, work ethic and willingness to learn of a 22 year old fighter as well as the physical attributes of one. The fact is Vitor is the only fighter of his generation who has evolved with the times, managed to expand on his abilities and experience no loss of desire or passion for the sport whatsoever. He has repeatedly failed at the highest level, been defeated in two separate title fights in the last two years and also managed dreadful personal trauma with the kidnapping of his sister Priscilla in 2004. He has lost time and time again and found a way to reinvent Vitor Belfort and come out on top. His striking has evolved from the boxer-brawler style he entered the sport with to a more dynamic Muay Thai attack (surely a by-product of his training with K-1 legend Ray Sefo and The Blackzilians respectively) with two spectacular head kick knockouts in just this year, and his grappling is still slick enough to bring him within seconds of snapping Jon Jones’ arm and shocking the world.

You don’t have to respect Vitor or his TRT use but the fact remains that despite a 17 year career spanning three weight divisions and several wars, he can still probably beat you.

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