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Unaffected by criticism, Vitor Belfort sets goals ahead of UFC on FX 8

Rematch with Jon Jones continues to drive Belfort

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brazilian fighter Vitor Belfort trains during the UFC Sao Paulo open workouts as people watch in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.

UFC on FX 8 complete card and betting odds

  • Middleweight bout: No. 2 Vitor Belfort (-110) vs. No. 5 Luke Rockhold (-120)
  • Middleweight bout: Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (-600) vs. Chris Camozzi (+400)
  • Lightweight bout: No. 10 Rafael dos Anjos (-190) vs. Evan Dunham (+155)
  • Middleweight bout: Rafael Natal (-335) vs. Joao Zeferino (+265)
  • Featherweight bout: Hacran Dias (-110) vs. No. 10 Nik Lentz (-120)
  • Lightweight bout: Francisco Trinaldo (-335) vs. Mike Rio (+265)
  • Lightweight bout: Gleison Tibau (-220) vs. John Cholish (+180)
  • Welterweight bout: Paulo Thiago (-175) vs. Michael Prazeres (+145)
  • Bantamweight bout: Yuri Alcantara (-500) vs. Iliarde Santos (+375)
  • Bantamweight bout: Marcus Brimage (+140) vs. Conor McGregor (-170)
  • Light heavyweight bout: Fabio Maldonado (-250) vs. Roger Hollett (+190)
  • Flyweight bout: No. 8 John Lineker (-145) vs. Azamat Gashimov (+115)
  • Flyweight bout: No. 5 Jussier Formiga (-130) vs. No. 7 Chris Cariaso (Even)
  • Lightweight bout: Lucas Martins (-250) vs. Jeremy Larsen (+190)
  • How to watch: Main card on FX at 6 p.m.; preliminary card aired on FUEL TV at 3 p.m.

Vitor Belfort can’t escape the recent negativity circulating about his career from others.

It’s everywhere Belfort turns, especially from his next opponent and former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold. Belfort saw, and was constantly reminded of, various interviews where Rockhold questioned his manhood and mocked the testosterone-replacement therapy the 36-year-old has utilized before his past two fights.

Belfort’s tried to ignore the insults, clinging to a philosophy he says he’s adhered to since first breaking into the UFC 16 years ago.

“A clever person doesn’t talk; a wise person is silent,” Belfort said last week. “I like to be wise. The more he talks, the more problems he gets.”

Belfort can apply that to his last opponent, Michael Bisping, who entered their meeting with big proclamations but left after getting knocked out with a head kick in the second round.

So Belfort (22-10 MMA, 11-6 UFC) will continue to put his head down and zone out any peripheral noise leading up to Saturday’s UFC on FX 8 showdown with Rockhold (10-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC). Using that approach, the former Las Vegas-based fighter is on a 4-2 run — with the losses coming to the top two fighters in the world, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones — since resigning with the UFC.

“Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Never confuse motion with action,’” Belfort said. “I’m all about action, man. That’s the only thing I do. I’m not trying to get elected to a chair. I’m an athlete; I’m judged by effort.”

There’s only one fight Belfort is particularly gunning for, and it’s not the one many would expect.

Turns out his call-out of Jones after the Bisping victory was more than a fleeting thought. Even though Belfort is competing a weight class below Jones at middleweight, a second meeting with the light heavyweight championship is something he longs for as his career winds down.

“The rematch I would love to have is with Jon Jones,” Belfort said. “But the rest, I’m just looking to fight the best or who has the title.”

Belfort’s 2011 loss to Silva, the middleweight champion, seemingly accrued more animosity and interest than his bout with Jones. Belfort talked of avenging his first-round knockout defeat for years but is no longer pining for the opportunity despite a three-fight win streak that could stretch to four against Rockhold at middleweight.

He struggled to explain why facing Jones interested him more than Silva.

“It’s just something in my spirit,” Belfort said. “It’s hard to describe. I would like to get that shot.”

If Silva wins his next fight, however, speculation already exists about a matchup between the two champions. For his own sake, Belfort hopes it’s just another super fight that fails to come together.

But, despite facing both fighters within the past two years, he has no opinion on how Jones vs. Silva would play out.

“When you sign a contract, anything could happen,” Belfort said. “When champions fight each other, either one has a chance.”

Belfort’s indifference is telling. As far as he’s concerned, it’s the only way to be.

Some may join in on talking about him, but he’s not going to reciprocate in any fashion.

“Everyone has to do their own thing,” Belfort said. “But the octagon is where I’ve learned how to conduct myself with honor and respect. That’s the most important thing to me.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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