Vitor Belfort has been awarded a fight license in Las Vegas, Nevada, it was reported on Wednesday. The controversial Belfort was unanimously cleared to compete by the Nevada State Athletic Commission during a hearing and will challenge Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight championship on Dec. 6.
Belfort must comply with random future drug testing, he cannot fight until December and he cannot have his next bout anywhere else but Nevada. Belfort told the NAC on Wednesday that the reason he failed is because he was granted an exemption for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in his native Brazil and, before traveling, he took a larger dose.
TRT was banned in Nevada and subsequent athletic commissions followed suit, including Brazil, home to Belfort’s three latest knockouts. He also failed a drug test in Nevada in 2006.
Belfort took responsibility for not communicating with the commission regarding his exemption in Brazil. He claims to have stopped TRT treatment the same day that it became outlawed.
"I voluntarily released my test results in order to try to help remove any controversy from this matter," he argued. "I want to prove I am a good fighter who follows the rules."
Commissioner Bill Brady came down hard on the Brazilian, requiring Belfort to make himself available to testing no matter his location. Belfort will also need to pay for any testing the NAC feels is necessary.
“I'll give you my definition of reasonable testing going forward from this commissioner's perspective, that we're going to drug test you to the day you retire,” said Commissioner Anthony Marnell. "We, in my opinion, should be in and around your career until the day you call it quits."
Commissioners Pat Lunvall and Skip Avansino questioned Belfort regarding his TRT use in Brazil and other jurisdictions. Belfort had been granted exemptions in Canada and Pennsylvania, in addition to Brazil. He was also questioned about his place of residence.
“They knew he was on TRT and they checked his levels and he met the requirements in both Canada and Pennsylvania,” said Alonso.
Belfort spoke candidly about his life off TRT.
“In the beginning it was really hard. It was a crash,” said the 37-year-old. “I'm just training smart. I gotta be smart with the age that I have, with the experience. I have a mission and my mission for the sports is to be an example, be a role model and fulfill my dream.
Avansino and Marnell ended the hearing by ensuring Belfort abides by reasonable testing conditions and stating that all state commissioners have the power to order a test at selected dates. Belfort was encouraged by the NAC to be in a location where that could be accomplished with ease, to which he stated, “I’m fully cooperating with you guys. Whatever you guys want will be done."
Upon conclusion of the vote, Belfort was granted a license on the three aforementioned conditional terms. Brady had strong words on how this impacts Belfort’s impending legacy and pursuit of a title.
"Your legacy will be determined by this meeting [going] forward, I believe that," said Brady. "There's some gray area right now, but I believe your legacy will be determined from here forward. I hope that that's outstanding. I wish you the best in accomplishing that."
Belfort was originally scheduled to fight Weidman for the middleweight strap at UFC 173 in May. He was originally pulled from the fight to be in compliance with drug testing protocol. Belfort was removed from the card and replaced by Lyoto Machida. That fight was ultimately moved to UFC 175 in July.