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Vitor Belfort, Chris Weidman trade verbal jabs for Saturday's UFC 187 bout

Undefeated UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, of Baldwin,

Undefeated UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, of Baldwin, trains for his fight against Vitor Belfort in the UFC 187 on Saturday, May 23, 2015, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

LAS VEGAS - The old lion had a question for his younger opponent.

"Nineteen years ago, how old used to be Chris Weidman, what grade?" Vitor Belfort asked of the middleweight champion at Wednesday's UFC 187 open workouts on the casino floor of the MGM Grand.

In 1997, when the Brazilian Belfort won a one-night heavyweight tournament at UFC 12 in Alabama, Weidman wasn't even in high school.

The UFC was different then. Different owners, different rules. Belfort, 19 then and 38 now, remains one of the few similarities between the two eras alongside the eight-sided cage and the three-letter acronym.

"How many fighters are going to be able to leave the legacy that I did?" Belfort said. "Nineteen years old, I came and I conquered."

In his six-plus years in mixed martial arts, Weidman has done his share of conquering as well. Weidman (12-0, 8-0 UFC) knocked out Anderson Silva to win the title then beat him again in the rematch.

Weidman, who turns 31 next month, then added a win over Lyoto Machida, a former light heavyweight champion.

"I'm just enjoying it, man," Weidman said after his workout. "This is what I love to do. This is like breathing for me. This is the best time of my life right now."

The Baldwin-raised Weidman is healthy again. This fight had been postponed three separate times since it first was scheduled in May 2014. Two of those delays were because of injuries Weidman suffered in training.

"It's relieving to finally have this fight," Weidman said of Saturday's co-main event. "I want to get past Vitor and move on with my career."

The first postponement came in February 2014 when the Nevada Athletic Commission voted to stop issuing therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy. The UFC then banned the use of TRT.

Belfort had been criticized for his TRT use in recent years. Once the commission made its announcement, the UFC removed Belfort from last summer's title shot against Weidman in Las Vegas.

Belfort (24-10, 12-7) hasn't fought since Nov. 9, 2013, when he knocked out Dan Henderson. It was Belfort's third consecutive win via head-kick knockout.

Few know which Belfort to expect to see on Saturday night -- the explosive puncher or a deflated former stud.

"I expect the toughest Vitor Belfort we've ever seen, a guy who's been hungry to get his third belt," Weidman said. "I'm expecting a tough guy coming after me, but there's no way I'm not leaving without the belt. There's no way I'm not completely dominating the fight . . . I'm the king of this weight and no one's taking me."


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