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With double deja-vu and respect all around, Vitor Belfort's swan song at UFC 224 was oddly poetic



RIO DE JANEIRO – Vitor Belfort’s last fight was filled with the type of the odd poetry that only MMA can provide us.

As Belfort (26-14 MMA, 15-11 UFC) collapsed from Lyoto Machida’s (24-8 MMA, 16-8 UFC) perfectly placed front kick, a single thought went through our minds: We’ve seen this before. Specifically, when Anderson Silva knocked him out in the first round of that UFC 216 meeting that really shot MMA to new mainstream heights in Brazil.

Hell, Machida was even wearing yellow shorts, too.

Belfort lay there for a scary few seconds, recovering in time to put down his gloves and confirm – for now, anyway – what he’d been saying all week: This was his final fight. We’re still trying to figure out what exactly having the most important fight of your life end the same way your last one does means – but it must mean something.

The deja-vu was twofold. We’d seen Machida in that same scenario before, in what turned out to be the final fight of his MMA career. So, basically, Machida brought the same end to the swan songs of two different former UFC champions.

That Belfort career ended on such a sour note could have been a sad situation but, for some reason, it kind of wasn’t?

Perhaps it would have been, if it wasn’t for the opponent. Machida and Belfort had been nothing but cordial toward each other since the fight was first booked. The respect continued after it was done, too, with Machida immediately refraining from follow-up shots and refusing to celebrate as the doctors tended to his downed opponent.

Maybe it’s because, as far as MMA careers go, Belfort had a pretty eventful one. Of course, it wasn’t spotless, with irregular patches in the cage and controversy outside of it. Belfort’s name isn’t unanimously-applauded – just ask Michael Bisping – but it’s one that one usually isn’t able to be indifferent to.

Belfort talked a lot about legacy on the lead-up to his final fight and there is really no doubt that, imperfect as it is, he left one.

And here’s the other thing that’s kind of poetic: Belfort’s goodbye also gave new spark to the career of a fellow veteran. Machida turns 40 later this month, but he’s made it clear that he’s not slowing down. On the contrary: having spent the better part of two years sidelined, he’s set on staying as active as possible and getting a new stab at UFC gold.

Now two fights removed from a rocky patch, Machida still has ways to go before that happens. But adding yet another highlight reel finish to his pretty interesting resume is one way to start.

That next step is yet to be determined, but it could be an interesting one. After the fight, Machida reiterated his desire to meet Bisping.

Let’s see if Machida’s display was enough to convince Bisping. But, considering what happened to the other two former champions on the verge of retirement that Machida fought, though,  he might wanna work on that front kick defense.

For complete coverage of UFC 224, check out the MMA Eventssection of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly seriously, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.

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With double deja-vu and respect all around, Vitor Belfort's swan song at UFC 224 was oddly poetic

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