Despite the bitterness that surrounded the build-up to their fight - and the knockout that ended it - unsuccessful middleweight title challenger Vitor Belfort is backing Anderson Silva to beat Jon Jones if the superfight between the two champions ever happens.
All focus is on a superfight between middleweight champion Silva and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at present, but a sizeable number of fans think that is a pointless match because of the huge size difference between the two. Belfort is one of them. He thinks Silva vs. Jones makes more sense.
“Anderson vs. GSP is meaningless. It would make sense if Anderson fought Jon Jones. Anderson is a fighter at another level. I'm not underestimating Jones but appraising Anderson. He's one of the best that has existed, I always thought it,” he told Por Dentro da Arena in his native Brazil.
“It is very nice to see his success. I know what he has gone through. Anderson is in a very high level and should defend his belt or fight for the light heavyweight title. I think he has a greater possibility to beat Jones. He would win on the feet.”
The 2010 fight between Belfort and Silva was a landmark in MMA. Belfort’s celebrity status in Brazil at the time - thanks to his marriage to the model Joanna Prado - meant the clash received significant attention. Thanks were also due to the 9ine agency owned by former soccer star Ronaldo, which marketed extensively on Silva’s behalf.
In some ways the fight was the Brazilian equivalent of the US fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar after the first series of The Ultimate Fighter. That fight was credited with sparking the MMA boom in the US and the same can be said of the Silva-Belfort fight in Brazil, which has since proven to be an insatiable booming market for the UFC product.