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UFC 142's Vitor Belfort: MMA Will 'Be As Big As Soccer If Not Bigger' In Brazil

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In this interview with MMA Nation radio, Vitor Belfort discusses facing Anthony Johnson at UFC 142 and states his belief mixed martial arts (MMA) will surpass soccer in popularity in his home country of Brazil.

PHOTO CREDIT: Esther Lin, MMAFighting.com
PHOTO CREDIT: Esther Lin, MMAFighting.com

Ahead of his bout this weekend with Anthony Johnson at UFC 142, Vitor Belfort is preternaturally calm. Despite having to face a rising talent just two days away, Belfort himself confesses to living in the moment. Some could suggest Belfort, who already has another fight locked up with Wanderlei Silva and a coaching job on the first season of 'The Ultimate Fighter: Brasil', isn't taking the threat from Johnson seriously. Belfort would counter he's simply living his life one moment at a time.

In this interview with MMA Nation radio, Belfort talks about his feelings about fighting in Brazil, preparing to coach 'The Ultimate Fighter', the strengths of Anthony Johnson, why mixed martial arts (MMA) will be bigger than soccer in Brazil and much more.

Full audio and transcript below:

Luke Thomas: Alright, joining me now on the McDonald's hot line, he takes on Anthony Johnson in the co-main event this weekend, UFC 142 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 10 p.m. start time for people on the east coast, the one and only Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort. Vitor, how are you sir?

Vitor Belfort: I'm good man. I'm fun. I'm in Brazil, cutting the weight for Friday's step on the scale and I will more happy when I start having the water but that doesn't mean I'm not happy today. I'm so happy having this opportunity.

Luke Thomas: You put out this video with the Dolce Diet, how comfortable has it been making the weight with the Dolce Diet compared to previous efforts?

Vitor Belfort: You know Mike, besides being the great professional he is, he's a great friend. I trust him and he does a great job with me and all the fighters and I love to cook myself. I learn, we have pleasure, we have joy. It's amazing.

Luke Thomas: Alright, so this your first fight back in Brazil at least in terms of MMA since your fight in 1998 with Wanderlei Silva. Tell me, how much of an incentive was it for you to fight in Brazil? In other words, would you have taken just about any fight just so you could fight back in Brazil for this event?

Vitor Belfort: Yeah man, I would take any fight the UFC gave me. I've never turned anybody down and especially fighting in Brazil, it doesn't matter who's in the corner. I'm not afraid of man. I'm not afraid of any situation. I love competition, hard competition and it's a joy to step into the Octagon for me. It's a joy. I enjoy every moment.

Luke Thomas: Vitor, tell us how popular right now MMA is in Brazil compared to other sports in the country and tell me then how big you think MMA can realistically be down there.

Vitor Belfort: You have to understand, it's been many years already. It's been more than four years since our sport has been number two sport in the country but we never had promotion, any major network behind and now with GLOBO trying to deal with UFC, it's just big man. You have to understand, imagine in America, I think we are number three or number four but here in Brazil we are number two and it's harder to try and beat soccer because soccer has been here long but I believe sooner or later we're gonna be as big as soccer if not bigger. And all over the world, man, just like Dana said, we're gonna be the biggest sport in the whole world and we just not say that, all expect. The UFC and video games and family entertainment, everything is being delivered. We deliver great competition, great entertainment. Everything that the UFC does, we do with honor.

Luke Thomas: I want to talk about this upcoming opportunity you have with The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. The question I have is, you basically start shooting for this next week. Is that right?

Vitor Belfort: I don't know man. I don't care when. I just care about today. I live in the day. I'm the type of guy, I have so many things, so many obligation. You talk about an athlete as professionals. I have business. I own all the business. I'm the father of three children. I have so many obligation but the main thing is I teach my kids my family is, after God, my family is the most important thing in my life so I teach everything you do is like the only thing you have in your life. If you're in school, that's your best moment right there. Focus on your school. When you're outside, you're in the gym, you do sport, do like that's the only thing you have in life. I think if you live that way, you can enjoy every moment and your life will be much easier to deal with the things. Much easier and you can accomplish things as best as you can accomplish so that's how I see a lot of things. Right now, I'm doing this interview like it's the only thing I have in life.

Luke Thomas: I appreciate that, Vitor. Talk to me about the TV show itself just a little bit, though. You know everyone's gonna be speaking Portuguese, it's gonna take place in Brazil and it's gonna be Brazilian fighters, but I guess when Americans watch it, Americans like me and I watched the regular of The Ultimate Fighter, when I watch this, will it have a Brazilian feel to it? Are there ways to make it culturally really stand out as a Brazilian product besides just having Brazilians on the show?

Vitor Belfort: I think especially with me and Wanderlei, you guys should put the show on FOX. if I had a decision to make, I would make this worldwide reality show. Two legends, two guys that fought 15 years ago and I think it will be good. It's gonna be great, but that's the future, buddy. That's something in the future, not right now so I'm focused on right now.

Luke Thomas: Talk to me about your opponent this weekend, Anthony Johnson. He's making his debut at middleweight. I want to ask you, in your judgment, he's obviously got a lot of threats, do you of course, but in terms of Anthony Johnson, is he a greater threat standing or is he a greater threat wrestling?

Vitor Belfort: Yeah, man, he's both. He's good wrestling and he's good on his exchanges too. He's a pretty tough opponent and he's strong, you know. He has good stills but nothing that I've never faced before and it's gonna be tremendous competing each other in the Octagon on Saturday night. The best man of the night, hopefully better will win and I'm making sure I will be that man.

Luke Thomas: Anthony Johnson says in this fight, you have more to lose. Do you agree or disagree?

Vitor Belfort: I don't agree man, but you know, that's what he thinks. What I think, I have everything to win. I have everything to win. I've been here longer in the sport, I have more experience, I don't have any pressure. I'm going to go there and do my best. That's the only thing he can expect from me. I will leave my best in the Octagon.

Luke Thomas: Before we let you go, do us the honor if you could, Vitor. The main event, Jose Aldo taking on Chad Mendes, who do you predict to win on Saturday night in the main event?

Vitor Belfort: It's tough, man. I don't see a guy to beat Jose Aldo. He's pretty amazing but you know, Mendes is a great fighter. Two champions, two amazing fighters but I don't know man. Jose Aldo moves like a ninja.