Belfort is excited for the opportunity, one that was entirely unexpected and not at all on the minds of fans when everything went down last week. He also has no illusions about who he's facing, and he sang Jones' praises on Tuesday night in an interview with Fuel TV's "UFC Tonight" program.
"Here I am with 35 years old, 17 years into my career, fighting the best fighter of all-time, in the history of the UFC, a guy who's [considered] the best athlete in MMA," Belfort said (transcribed by MMAJunkie.com). "He's the new breed. I have a lot of respect for the guy, but I'm ready to put up a fight and take the competition to a high level."
Belfort reiterated a line he used in a previous interview, calling this fight the "old lion vs. the new lion" as he opined on being one of the last fighters from the early generation of the sport's history.
"How many guys [are left] from my generation?" he asked. "I come from the generation of Tank Abbott, Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Royce Gracie ? that generation. How many guys from my generation are still [competitive] that way?"
"Don't miss this. Toronto on the 22nd. You guys will see the old lion vs. the young lion, the old-fashoned fighter with the new breed."
Penick's Analysis: Belfort understands he's facing an uphill battle in this fight, taking on a man he clearly holds in high regard - at least from a fighting standpoint. And why wouldn't he? What Jones has done in such a short time in the UFC is nothing short of remarkable and unprecedented. Belfort burst onto the scene as a kid in the late nineties, but the run that made him "The Phenom" is still nothing compared to the championship reign of the youngest Champ in UFC history. This is absolutely old school vs. new school on Sept. 22, and that makes for a somewhat interesting dynamic. Whether Belfort can put anything together on three week's notice to truly challenge Jones is a different story, but it will be interesting to see him make that attempt.