RIO DE JANEIRO – Vitor Belfort's last fight was filled with the kind of weird poetry that only MMA can offer us.
Perfectly placed front kick as Belfort (26-14 MMA, 15-11 UFC) of Lyoto Machidas (24- 8 MMA, 16-8 UFC), one thought crossed our heads: we've seen that before. More specifically, when Anderson Silva knocked him out in the first round of the UFC 216 meeting, MMA in Brazil catapulted to new mainstream heights.
Hell, Machida even wore yellow shorts.
Belfort lay there for a fearsome second, recovering in time to take off his gloves and confirm – at least now – what he had said all week: that was his last fight. We're still trying to figure out exactly what the most important fight in your life will end up like your last ̵
Deja-vu was two-fold. We had seen Machida in this scenario before, which turned out to be the last fight of his MMA career. Basically, Machida brought the swan song of two different former UFC champions to the same end.
That the Belfort career ended on such a sour note might have been a sad situation, but for some reason it was not
Maybe it would have been if it had not been for the opponent. Machida and Belfort had been nothing but friendly since the first fight. The respect continued after Machida immediately kept away from follow-up shots and refused to celebrate as the doctors took care of his downed opponent.
Maybe it's because Belfort had a pretty eventful career when it comes to MMA careers. Of course it was not immaculate, with irregular patches in the cage and controversy outside of it. Belfort's name is not unanimously applauded – just ask Michael Bisping – but it's one that you normally can not be indifferent to.
Belfort has spoken a great deal about the legacy in the run-up to his last fight, and there is no doubt that, imperfect as it is, he has left one.
And here is something else poetic: Belfort's goodbye also gave a veteran's career a new spark. Machida turns 40 later this month, but he has made it clear he will not slow down. On the contrary, after spending most of his two years offside, he wants to stay as active as possible and win UFC Gold.
Now that two battles have been removed from a rocky spot, Machida still has opportunities to do so. But it's a way to add another highlight finish to his rather interesting resume.
This next step has yet to be determined, but it could be more interesting. After the fight, Machida repeated his desire to meet Bisping.
Let's see if Machida's presentation was enough to convince Bisping. But considering what happened to the two other retired champions who fought Machida, he might want to work on that front-end defense.
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