DELRAY BEACH, Fla. Jon Bones Jones will only fight one man when he defends his UFC light heavyweight championship Saturday at UFC 152 in Toronto Vitor Belfort.
But Belfort will enter the Octagon with the knowledge and experience of two former UFC champs, himself and Rashad Evans, who is training and cornering Belfort.
Maybe, just maybe, thats enough to give Belfort, who plans on relocating to Florida and working with the Blackzilians, the edge he needs to pull off what would be considered one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
Im looking forward to cornering Vitor, said Evans, who lost a unanimous decision to Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 145 in April.
Its something different being on the outside of the cage rather than being inside the cage. Im definitely going to be nervous, but I think weve got what it takes to do it. Im excited, and Im excited that Vitor allowed us to be part of his journey.
And just to be sure, Evans said this is Belforts fight. He has no designs on avenging his loss to Jones vicariously through Belfort.
Nah, the past is the past, Evans said. It was what it was. He was a better man the night we fought. Im looking to work my way back up and continue to be a champion and get back to where I need to be.
As it turns out, the Belfort-Evans union is something thats been cooking for a few months and possibly could have happened even before the Jones-Evans title fight.
We had talked about it previously, like him coming down a couple of camps ago, but then he fought one of our teammates, Anthony Johnson (in January), so it was like a no-go from there, Evans said. But he decided to come out and try it out for a week, and it was a good fit, good team chemistry, he liked what we were showing here, and he decided to stay.
And hes not looking back. Belfort officially joined the Blackzilians about a month ago. And its permanent. Hes been working out at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Delray Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale, and he has no plans to ever go back to his former training facility in Las Vegas.
I will move here with my family, said Belfort, a native of Rio de Janeiro. Im coming to Florida. Its a joy, and its close to Brazil.
More importantly, its where Belfort feels comfortable.
Its a decision thats not through the fight, its through my career, he said. I want to end my career as best I can, and I was looking for a place I could have good trainers and partners, people that I like, people that like me, people that recognize me as a family.
Glenn (Robinson), the owner of this gym, the Blackzilians, Rashad, all the fighters here are very nice and friendly, and Im enjoying the process.
Others are enjoying the process, too. After all, this fight is a geriatric mismatch. Belfort, who won his UFC light heavyweight title belt in 2004, is 35 years old, a decade older than Jones, the youngest champion in UFC history. Few give Belfort much hope of pulling the upset.
This is the biggest chance of Vitors entire career, Tito Ortiz said. This is everything to him as far as his legacy this is the biggest opportunity anyone from our generation in the UFC ever had.
Belfort, of course, took the fight on short notice. Jones was scheduled to fight Dan Henderson at UFC 151, but Henderson sustained a knee injury. Jones refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice, and Lyoto Machida refused to fight Jones on short notice. That earned Belfort his title shot, and Evans thinks a one-month camp will work to Belforts advantage.
The camp has been phenomenal for Vitor, Evans said. I think the short camp was a blessing in disguise. One thing that tends to happen when you do long camps is you have the tendency to go over too much in your training because you have so much time on your hands.
But I think the short camp definitely made it so we were able to stay specific on the things we wanted to focus on, what were the most important things and not get too outside the box.
As for Belfort, hes not concerned about a short camp, relocating, having a new trainer, a new team, nothing. Belfort, who relies heavily on his Christian faith, said each of those decisions was easy.
Nothings agonizing when you live in peace, he said. Everythings a joy. When you go through the fire, you dont get burned, you just get happy.