Shawn Tompkins is not happy. His fighter, Vitor Belfort, headlines UFC 103 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Tex., moving up from middleweight to a catchweight of 195-pounds to battle former UFC 185-pound champion Rich Franklin.
“I’m not happy with it as his coach. I want him at 185 [pounds], I want him to stay there. I don’t think 195 is gonna take his motivation away as much as 205. I would never want to train him at that weight—we’ve discussed this as his trainer,” said Xtreme Couture’s head trainer. “We’ve really made lots of commitments to each other as a coach and a student. I like him at 185 and we’re under the agreement and that this will be his only 195 matchup that he does in the UFC.”
Belfort was originally slated to face Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago at Affliction “Trilogy” on Aug. 1, but the company’s live events division folded and Belfort was left looking for a home.
“I think it was the fact that the UFC wanted Vitor Belfort very badly. Rich Franklin seemed to be the person that was in the highlight for that Dallas show that we could step in and fight. I think there was somebody else’s name in the mix, maybe Dan Henderson or something. And so for us to step into that this quickly, we wanted to fight right away,” said Tompkins. “Rich Franklin’s ready, let’s fight him. And I think also what’ll happen is Dan Henderson and Anderson Silva will fight each other and the winner of those two fights should fight each other for the belt.”
Tompkins believes there is no question a win over Franklin should pit Belfort against UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
“I think he should be fighting for the title after this. Its not one of those things where he has to prove himself. He’s Vitor Beflort. He just knocked out Matt Lindland in record time,” said Tompkins. “Matt Lindland has been a force to be reckoned with—nobody treats him like that. I think Vitor’s proved himself. I think the UFC feels Vitor’s proved himself and the fan loves him, so why not put him in that position?”
Tompkins asserts Belfort, a fighter notorious for lacking a strong mental game despite a championship skill set, is ready to reach the heights of the sports once again.
“Vitor is in such a great place in his life. If I want to take credit for anything, I think a lot of people know he kind of had a [father figure] with Carlson Gracie, if anything, maybe I’ve kind of taken that role,” he said. “Vitor just needs someone to be a leader in his life and make decisions for him. I think the problem Vitor went through for a while was he had too many people surrounding him that told him he was the greatest and told him that he didn’t need to do this and he didn’t need to do that and he deserves this. He doesn’t deserve anything until he works hard to get it. I’m not scared to tell him that. If a fighter doesn’t believe in what I say, they don’t need to work with me.”
Tompkins other fighter on the UFC 103 card is Tyson Griffin, who faces Hermes Franca in a lightweight scrap. Griffin isn’t too far away from a title shot either, according to the trainer.
“He’s in the gym day in and day out and he’s really looking forward to this fight. It’s an actual name that people are gonna recognize and know. And that means a lot to him, that he can fight a guy like Hermes Franca,” said Tompkins. “If he can go out there and finish this fight and prove himself, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be closer to the mix as well. That one little loss isn’t gonna be that much of a setback to Tyson Griffin.”