Former UFC champ Vitor Belfort rethinks retirement, plans to fight again

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, who announced his retirement in May after a knockout loss to Lyoto Machida, now plans to fight again.

"I am a free agent," Belfort said on ESPN's Ariel Helwani's MMA Show. "We are in conversation [with promotions]. In 2019 I will come back."

Belfort, 41, told ESPN he had successful surgery on his left shoulder after his most recent fight. The result led him to want to return to the sport.

Belfort, from Brazil, competed in the UFC's heavyweight, light heavyweight and middleweight divisions during a professional career that has spanned more than two decades. He won the UFC's light heavyweight title by defeating Randy Couture by first-round TKO at UFC 46 in January 2004. Though his title reign did not last, he has memorable victories against fighters including Dan Henderson, Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping and Anthony Johnson.

Belfort announced his retirement from the sport after being front kicked to the head by Machida at UFC 224. Before the bout, he joined the "UFC Unfiltered" podcast to discuss his post-fight plans.

"I never plan [things], but I remember in 2007, I made a decision, 'OK, I'm going to be fighting until I'm 40.' Here I am, finishing this plan I made in 2007," Belfort said. "You've got to respect your body and know the time to transition to what's next. A lot of athletes cannot transition. They don't have nothing to do after."

But Belfort has had a change of heart. Though he did not rule out joining the UFC again, he said he's open to fighting in other organizations.

"We are looking for a place where we can be a fighter and be the athlete and we can bring value," he said.