Vitor Belfort (19-9 MMA, 8-4 UFC) wanted Wanderlei Silva, and he wanted to fight in Brazil.
He got neither.
Nevertheless, "The Phenom" said he's just fine with a UFC 133 booking with Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC). Fresh off a loss to middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Belfort looks forward to a spectacular finish and another shot at the belt.
"I'm excited," Belfort told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "It's a joyful time. Now I have a date, and I have an opponent. I'm excited about it."
Though not yet officially announced by the promotion, UFC 133 takes place Aug. 6 in Philadelphia. The city's Wells Fargo Center is expected to host the pay-per-view event.
The booking came as a bit of surprise. Earlier this year, Wanderlei Silva told Brazilian-based outlet Tatame that he longed for a rematch of the 1998 bout that saw Belfort earn a TKO win in just 44 seconds.
However, in March, UFC president Dana White revealed Silva respectfully declined the matchup when it was presented to him by company brass. Belfort declined to bash Silva for his change of heart, but he did offer a subtle jab when pressed.
"I make sure everything I say, I can back up," Belfort said. "The only thing I can promise is that I'm going to bring the heat. Winning and losing is part of the game, but I'm a man of my words."
Then there's the matter of location. Like all Brazilian-born fighters, Belfort most certainly would preferred to fight three weeks later at UFC 134, the UFC's first event in Brazil since the 1998 card on which Belfort appeared. But the 34-year-old Belfort, a man of devout faith, said he's just fine with wherever the UFC needs him the most.
"The only disappointment I would have is if God did something and I wasn't included," Belfort said. "The UFC needed me in Philadelphia, and anything Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta need from me, I'm there for them. I fight for the UFC and the fans."
In Akiyama, Belfort faces an always-exciting Japanese superstar in desperate need of a win. Just 1-2 in the UFC, Akiyama is a three-time "Fight of the Night" winner, but his roster spot may be in jeopardy with a third-consecutive defeat.
Belfort knows he's facing a dangerous foe and welcomes the challenge. The Brazilian slugger believes another win or two will give him another crack at the middleweight title.
"I want to win this fight for my legacy, and I want a title shot again," Belfort said. "Akiyama is a tough opponent. He's a nice guy, but it's going to be a war.
"I'm going to go in there 100 percent, and I'm going there to knock him out or submit him. I'm going to be there to bring the heat. I know he will be there to bring the heat, too, so be ready. Don't miss it."