Vitor Belfort “lives in Disneyland,” according to his long-time rival Wanderlei Silva.
The former Pride FC champion blasted Belfort this week as he got ready for the launch of The Ultimate Fighter Brasil in his homeland. He and Belfort are the rival coaches, and they have a personal history stretching back to 1998.
That was the year that the UFC took its show to Brazil for the first time. Wanderlei and Belfort met in the Octagon and Belfort, who was a youngster then but had a reputation for quick finishes, put Wanderlei away in 44 seconds. It was a humiliation that Wanderlei has never forgotten - or forgiven.
“The guy who wins forgets but the guy who loses…” he said this week as he reflected on the assurances that Belfort had given Brazilian media regarding his hopes for another quick finish.
“Each has his own opinion, each can express his own point of view. But I think he lives in his own world. In his own mind he is right, but for me he lives in Disneyland. But I was born in the real world, I'm from the streets,” he said.
“The guy is a lion when he is doing the hitting - but when he is hit, he shows the fear on his face. I will beat him and I will do it with heart.”
Wanderlei and Belfort are due to rematch at the UFC’s upcoming show in Rio de Janeiro this summer. The event will take place at an outdoor soccer stadium and have a capacity of up to 80,000. For a Curitiba man like Wanderlei, the chances are high that the crowd may be against him - Belfort is from Rio himself.
“The cariocas (Rio people) love me. The crowd will all root for me. I am a beloved athlete all over the world. People want to see the show, a good fight and this is what we will do. I am very happy to fight in Rio and I will dedicate the victory to all the people from Rio,” he says.
Wanderlei carried his high spirits on to Twitter, where he joked with a fan who told him he had put money on Belfort to win the fight. “Bet on Belfort - that you will lose!” he cracked.