By Michael Ashcraft —
“There’s two ways to get to God, through pain or through love,” he says on an I am Second video. “Mine was through pain.”
Known as “the Phenom,” Vitor Belfort was the youngest fighter to win an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout at 19. The Brazilian-born Florida resident, 44, has fought in all kinds of matches, with boxing being his latest.
He knew about God from childhood. In his first official fight, he promised to serve God faithfully, if God permitted him to win. Once he triumphed, he promptly forgot his promise.
“As soon as I won the championship, I didn’t follow God right away,” he acknowledges.
At age 20, he suffered a neck injury. Doctors were grim. He would have to give up his beloved sport of fighting and find another career.
“I was crying, I was desperate,” he admits.
One day as he drove around in his fancy car he saw a legless man who got around on a skate. He was so struck by this beggar, he engaged in conversation.
“Many people that drive by here think I’m worthless because I don’t have any legs,” the beggar told him. “But I can guarantee you, Vitor, I’m happier than many people who drive by here in their big cars. I got Jesus and Jesus can transform your life.”
That was the moment that Vitor felt God talking to his heart.
“But even with that, I didn’t follow God,” he concedes.
It would take the kidnapping of his sister in 2004 to humble Vitor and bring him to repentance.
Priscila was taken, and the family didn’t know anything about her for three years. A woman who supposedly was taken captive herself to pay off drug debts, Elaine Paiva, confessed to helping drug dealers kidnap and kill Priscilla.
Information that his sister had been repeatedly raped by grisly murderers enraged Vitor.
“If you lost your husband, you’re a widow. If you lost your parent, you’re an orphan. But if you lost your child, we don’t have a name for that,” Vitor says. “It’s so painful. It’s so painful they don’t even have a name for that.”
Some family members doubt that Paiva’s version is true and think Priscila is alive because police never found the body, supposedly buried in the jungle outside Rio de Janeiro.
“My heart was getting hard, and I started getting bitter,” Vitor narrates. “Everything I see, I just want revenge, revenge. I was hurt. I wanted a solution from my pain. I wanted medicine.”
Out of the anguish, he began to seek God.
“I started praying. I started a strong fire with God.”
Then God spoke to his heart: Son, it doesn’t matter what you think or how you think about your life. Your sister belongs to Me.
The words helped.
“That was the biggest touch of a true relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit,” he says.
Married to Joana Prado with three children, Vitor credits Jesus with a happy family and a happy life.
“I have a great family and a great relationship with God,” he says. “My heart is at peace. Through that tribulation, I’m a new man. I’m a strong man. I’m mature. I’m not perfect. I still struggle with many things. I’m in the middle of the process. Every day I try to fight through that process.”
The fighting in the cage is a picture for the spiritual fight he engages in.
“You’re going to lose, you’re going to win. Don’t worry,” he says. “The main thing is to be an overcomer.”
Vitor has 26 wins and 14 losses in his professional career. The 44-year-old demolished once-great Evander Holyfield, 58, with a technical knockout in the first round of a Triller Fight Club boxing match.
“I just thank God every day. I’m happy. I’m healthy. Bottom line is it’s just the way you treat life and life will treat you back. Make sure you’re happy with whatever is going on in your life,” he says on MMA Weekly. “I think the key of life is just be happy with what’s in front of you and the decision of my life is under God and God knows what’s best for me.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Michael Ashcraft also sells a bamboo steamer basket on Amazon for healthier eating.