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Vitor Belfort on Steroids: How it Affected His Career!



Super Moderator
Dec 2, 2022
Vitor Vieira Belfort, known as The Phenom, is a middleweight MMA fighter from Brazil. He previously belonged to the heavyweight division and has been fighting for 20 years. He entered the professional scene when he was 19 after he knocked out Josemario Nieves.

Not all fighters can compete in two different divisions, but Belfort did. Competing in two different divisions is one of the biggest accomplishments of a fighter. No wonder Vitor Belfort was recognized as a UFC legend.

Tapology released a worldwide ranking where Vitor Belfort ranked #5 in the 2013 MMA Fighter of The Year, #45 in the Greatest MMA Fighter of All Time, and #24 in the Greatest MMA Striker of All Time. Because of his physique and power, there were rumors that he was using steroids.

He previously admitted that he had a history of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED). But because it is illegal for athletes, the rumor of Vitor Belfort on steroids is constantly circulating in the UFC scene.

Pre-Steroid Career​

Vitor Belfort had his first fight in 1996 and has been one of the most famous fighters in UFC until today. At the age of 19, Belfort was one of the youngest fighters that win in the UFC ring. Belfort’s career was full of memorable knockouts and victories, including a 12-second knockout victory in his professional debut.

He fought many UFC stars who were bigger, heavier, and more experienced than him. This made him smarter and created strategies to finish these kinds of opponents. He managed to finish his matches with Ferrozo and Telligman in less than a minute.

As a young fighter, winning an MMA match against an experienced fighter is a dream come true. However, he lost a match against Couture in 1997 and had a rematch in 2004, where he took home the victory with only 46 seconds. He also outsmarted Eastman in a 67-second match with a TKO victory.

The UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament Champion and Light Heavyweight Champion were among the titles he had before his steroid controversy.

Steroid Usage​

Like many combat athletes, Vitor Belfort also tested positive for steroids. He previously shared his history with the substance. Unfortunately, it was confirmed in 2006 after Pride 32 in his fight with Dan Henderson. The PED found in his system was 4-hydroxytestosterone. He was then suspended by NSAC from fighting at any UFC matches for 9 months.

But Belfort said that the steroid found in his system was unintentional and most probably part of his rehabilitative injections or supplements. He also shared that the rehabilitative injections were prescribed by his endocrinologist. The changes in his physique were easily noticed.

Before his fight with Jon Jones in 2012, he again had a questionable drug test result. It showed high levels of testosterone. UFC did not contest as Belfort underwent Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). The therapy was needed since Belfort had low levels of testosterone, which was unnatural for an adult man. The TRT in UFC was legal not until 2014.

According to Jon Jones, he already noticed the lean physique of Belfort in their weigh-ins. However, the fight still commenced to its schedule. Many UFC fans consider Vitor Belfort on steroids as cheating since one of the effects of steroids is high levels of agility, power, and strength.

Another steroid scandal for Belfort arose in 2014. Before his scheduled match with Chris Weidman, a random drug test result displayed that Vitor Belfort has unusual levels of testosterone. And because the TRT was not legal anymore, Belfort was banned from fighting at any matches once again and was fined $10,000 by NSAC.

Impact on Performance​

Many determined athletes are ready to win whatever it takes. This includes the use of steroids during training and pre-match. Performance-enhancing drugs are prohibited in any kind of sports, especially those that include physical contact. It can make an athlete an above-average athlete.

A lot of side effects happen when an athlete uses steroids. It may cause serious effects on internal organs. But for athletes, it can make their biceps toned, their abs rippled, and their fats lose. Steroids can make the muscle tissues of an athlete stronger. This means they can double the intensity of their workouts and training. It also makes them more aggressive, which can be an edge while inside the ring.

Not only in UFC but other major leagues are not in favor of athletes using steroids. Though there are random tests done among athletes, its use is still prevalent in sports.

Controversy and Criticism​

The speculations of steroid use of Vitor Belfort have gained reactions from his opponents and fellow fighters from UFC. He had a steroid scandal twice and was banned from any matches in 2006 and 2014. Like Jon Jones, other fighters like Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson also had their reactions about Vitor Belfort on steroids.

For Michael Bisping, Belfort was a cheater. Bisping lost to Belfort in 2013 in a main middleweight event of UFC. Belfort finished the match with a knockout. The steroid scandal added rage to Bisping, and he would like to have a rematch with Belfort. He reacted that most athletes have low testosterone levels but do not need to use steroids.

Like Bisping and Jones, Dan Henderson also has something to say about Vitor Belfort on steroids. According to him, he’s not bothered by the steroid scandal since he defeated Belfort while The Phenom was using steroids. He also believes that Belfort’s rise to popularity was only brought about by the steroid scandal.

Post-Steroid Career​

After being banned because of the steroid scandal in 2014, he again went back to UFC in May 2015 to continue the supposedly scheduled match with Chris Weidman. However, Belfort only lasted in the first round and got knocked out. He had a rematch with Dan Henderson, where he defeated him again and earned a Performance of The Night award.

He continued to fight in the succeeding years, but the majority of his matches lost. Belfort was already nearly 40s when he came back in 2015. It is believed that his physical strength was not able to match the power of Ronaldo Souza, Gegard Mousasi, Kelvin Gastelum, and Lyoto Machida.

Belfort announced his retirement in 2018 after he lost to Machida in a knockout victory. There were professional boxing bouts scheduled for Belfort after he retires from MMA, but these were canceled due to different reasons.

Vitor Belfort’s Legacy​

Though Belfort’s 20-year career was both victorious and controversial. Being the youngest UFC fighter to win in a UFC match, Belfort can still recall how he started. In an interview with ESPN, he shared that he can still remember the details of his UFC 12 match. From event relocations to how he finished his first victory.

His career was not always healthy. He experienced injuries and, of course, his steroid scandals. Belfort’s career ended with only a single win out of five matches after he came back after the 2014 steroid scandal. Though retired, he shared that he wants to keep going.

Belfort’s career is a witness to how MMA became one of the most anticipated combat sports. He outraged many famous UFC fighters, gained different titles, and eventually lost them as well. According to Belfort, everyone has haters and supporters, but his legacy will continue to thrive until the next generations.


Steroid use is very prominent in sports where an athlete needs to have a good body build. It can shape the body in a short period. However, it also comes with effects that are not acceptable in the combat fighting industry. It can be dangerous for people who use it and for their opponents.

The issue of Vitor Belfort on steroids was one of the biggest scandals in UFC. It has been proven twice, and Belfort was banned from the sport twice also. Belfort’s strength and power are already seen even in his pre-steroid career. He became a young champion and defeated a lot of experienced fighters. However, his use of steroids also made significant changes in his career.

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