The excitement level in ONE Championship was cranked up a few more notches last week when Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort signed with the world’s largest martial arts organization.
His arrival has kept fans and athletes buzzing, and many are wondering who the Brazilian legend could face in his first bout with The Home Of Martial Arts.
In anticipation of his grand premiere, we put on our thinking caps and came up with five compelling debut match-ups for the multiple-time Mixed Martial Arts World Champion.
Former ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash was the most dominant middleweight in the world’s largest martial arts organization until he was unseated by the division’s reigning king, Aung La N Sang.
Now on the comeback trail, the powerful Russian would surely relish the opportunity to take on a mixed martial arts legend on the way to reclaiming the World Title. Not only does he possess the grappling savvy to test Belfort, but he has firepower in his fists, too.
If Belfort can make a successful debut against a foe like Bigdash, then the Brazilian superstar would instantly catapult himself into World Title contention.
It would be interesting to see Belfort make his first appearance in The Home Of Martial Arts opposite another recently-signed star in Yushin “Thunder” Okami.
The Japanese veteran has competed in multiple weight classes throughout his 47-bout mixed martial arts career, and he may view the opportunity to face the Brazilian as the perfect springboard for his own journey in ONE.
Belfort is familiar with Okami’s work, and with both men looking to make an impact in their respective debuts, putting two veterans of the sport against each other will instantly create a top contender for the ONE Middleweight World Championship.
Aung La N Sang holds both the ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Championships, and with Belfort equally capable of competing in either weight class, the matchmakers may be tempted to thrust the Brazilian into a World Title bout with “The Burmese Python.”
The Myanmar luminary is scheduled to defend his middleweight belt against Ken Hasegawa at ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan on 31 March, so if “The Phenom” gets his shot at him, then he will have to wait a little longer before making his bow.
However, a possible World Title contest later in the year may provide Belfort with the perfect opportunity to make the biggest impact possible in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
At first glance, this may seem unlikely.
However, take a deeper look, and you may realize a contest between ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera and Belfort could become a reality.
Both men have competed in North America, have plied their respective trades in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, and have claimed World Titles in the sport’s heaviest weight class.
With their respective pedigrees in the sport of mixed martial arts, as well as their penchant for spectacular finishes, a potential clash between the Filipino-American and the Brazilian legend could thrill fans all across the globe.
Roy Jones Jr.
Belfort’s debut may not be in the realm of mixed martial arts, but rather a ONE Super Series boxing contest.
He has long expressed his desire to face the legendary Roy Jones Jr. and now that “The Phenom” is in ONE Championship, his dream to compete against the multi-division Boxing World Champion could finally come true.
The Brazilian’s lone professional boxing contest took place in 2006, which he won via knockout in 61 seconds. A super-bout with Jones would be quite the step up in competition and an immense challenge, but that is one of the many things that attracted Belfort to the world’s largest martial arts organization.