UFC veteran Vitor Belfort will face fellow Brazilian Lyota Machida at UFC 224 on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro in his final fight, it has been confirmed.
The former light heavyweight champions will take part in a middleweight showdown that will bring down the curtain on the two decade long career of “The Phenom.”
Forty-year old Belfort’s most recent fight back in June last year at UFC 212 saw him win a unanimous decision over Nate Marquardt. Before that he had dropped three straight fights.
Machida, 39, is in the same position, his split decision win over Eryk Anders earlier this month came after dropping his three previous contests.
Belfort had been close to securing a fight with former champion Michael Bisping, but after that fell through the fight with Machida was lined up.
The Brazilian referenced the defunct fight in comments about the upcoming meeting.
“May 12th @lyotomachidafw and I will step into the octagon as professionals and we still be friends. Always respecting each other and the way we will do that is giving our best in the octagon,” he wrote.
“I want people to understand that you don’t have to be a bully to be a fighter, you have to be a real man. And that is exactly what the world is in need, real man willing to pay the price to make a difference.”
I’m over 20 years being relevant in this sport. I broke a lot barriers and paved the way for a generation after me. I am one of the pioneers of the sport and I’m proud it it. I could not walk into the octagon for the last time without sending a relevant message to the: athletes, fans and to the sport itself. That is the reason why I chose to fight a friend of mine. An athlete that I have a lot respect. A good person a family man. I’m against the so famous “trash talk”. MMA is a sport! A sport that myself and a lot of family men work really hard to support our families. Lyoto and I have known each other for many years, I know his family and we have trained together. I wanted this fight to take place in Brazil because that is where everything started and now it’s time for us to send another message to the world. And the message is: RESPECT! May 12th @lyotomachidafw and I will step into the octagon as professionals and we still be friends. Always respecting each other and the way we will do that is giving our best in the octagon. I want people to understand that you don’t have to be a bully to be a fighter, you have to be a real man. And that is exactly what the world is in need, real man willing to pay the price to make a difference.
Machida also welcomed the fight in an Instagram post, writing: “Now, it’s official. This will be my third fight since coming back to the UFC and it represents the rhythm I want and need to get into, so I can achieve the results that my all my training and dedication show me I’m capable of achieving.
“A warrior, in order to be a warrior, needs to test himself on the battlefield. I know that battlefield very well and now it’s back in my life: the Octagon. It’s so good to be back!”
“Once again, I’d like to pass a message not only about the fight, but about how important it is to follow your dreams and not giving up on them. I’m happy this fight will happen in Brazil and my opponent, Vitor Belfort, will be having his last UFC fight, so very respectfully, we’ll do our best to gift you with a good fight!”
UFC 224 will also feature a heavyweight bout between Junior Albini and Alexey Oleynik, as well as a middleweight contest between Cezar Ferreira and Karl Roberson. The main fight has yet to be announced.