Legendary mixed martial artist Vitor Belfort intends to retire this weekend, following his middleweight fight against Uriah Hall in St. Louis.
Belfort (26-13) will meet Hall (13-8) in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night inside Scottrade Center. The 40-year-old Brazilian has said it will be the final appearance of his career.
“This is my retirement fight,” Belfort told UFC Unfiltered. “After that, I am putting my body to rest.
“Life is about seasons, and I think you’ve got to know the seasons. I think back sometimes, I flashback, and say, ‘Wow, I’m still doing this. Wow, that’s crazy.’ I’m very thankful, but I think my body needs to rest.”
It’s a stark departure from where Belfort was last March, when he publicly suggested the UFC create a “Legends League” where older fighters could compete under modified rules.
Belfort, who is originally from Rio de Janeiro, has since changed his mind on the subject. Sunday’s contest will mark his 41st professional fight. His professional career began in 1996.
“I was always a man of the moment. I think it helped me go through things I went through in life,” Belfort said. “I never plan [things], but I remember in 2007, I made a decision, ‘OK, I’m going to be fighting until I’m 40.’ Here I am, finishing this plan I made in 2007.
“You’ve got to respect your body and know the time to transition to what’s next. A lot of athletes cannot transition. They don’t have nothing to do after.”
Belfort is a former UFC light heavyweight champion. His second pro fight was at UFC 12 in 1997, where he won a one-night heavyweight tournament.
He’s considered a pioneer in the sport and has fought the likes of Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Jon Jones, Kazushi Sakuraba, Wanderlei Silva and Michael Bisping, among others.
Belfort has also been the source of some controversy. He was suspended for nine months in 2006 after testing positive for an anabolic steroid in Nevada. His use of testosterone-replacement therapy up until Nevada banned the treatment in 2014 also stirred controversy.