NBA legend Shaq revealed that UFC vet Vitor Belfort once knocked out somebody for him

Shaquille O’Neal is renowned as one of basketball’s greatest icons and a prominent figure in the media landscape. He shares an enduring passion for mixed martial arts MMA.

O’Neal started training in kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 2000. He often attends UFC events. O’Neal’s love for the game even led to him becoming an unlockable character in UFC Undisputed 2010.

This love for MMA all seems to have begun with a fortunate meeting with Vitor Belfort.

Recounting the moment on the Pound 4 Pound podcast with Kamaru Usman and Henry Cejudo, O’Neal vividly described the encounter. He stated: “We’re at training camp in Hawaii, and I’m walking down the street, and a motherf***** grabs me, and he’s strong as f*ck.”

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh s*it, it’s about to go down.’ And I turn around and we square up, and Vitor Belfort goes like this [raises hands] ‘No, no, no, man! I’m a fan of yours.’ I think this was UFC 1. Real talk. Motherf*cker just grabs me so I’m getting ready to square up, ‘No, no, no! I’m just a fan!’ and he gave me tickets to his fight. And he beat some dude who had on some overalls….”

“The motherf*cker grabbed me in the middle of the street. So in my mind, I’m about to f*** him up, because he’s little. But he was nice. ‘No, no, no. My friend, my friend. I fight in the UFC. We have a fight.’ ‘Motherf*cker what time?’ We didn’t have s*it to do. He beat some 7-foot dude in some overalls, and I had never seen a sport like that. So I’ve been a fan ever since.”

Shaq was mistaken, though as Belfort did not participate in UFC 1. The match in question was Belfort’s first professional bout, a 1996 SuperBrawl 2 knockout of Jon Hess in 12 seconds.

Shaq was one of the first fans of mixed martial arts, back when the UFC had only hosted 11 bouts and the sport was still in its infancy. O’Neal claims to have kept in touch with the guy who first introduced him to MMA, even sharing a story about how Belfort once used his abilities to help Shaq.

O’Neal related: “He knocked somebody out for me one time. Dude was talking crazy and Vitor just came out of nowhere, BING BING. I’m looking at the dude on the floor and I’m like, ‘Vitor, go.’ ‘No man! Duh duh duh.’ ‘Motherf*cker get out of here! Go. I got it.’ Then the cops come [shrugs]. Yeah.”

Belfort would go on to become one of the most well-liked contenders in MMA history and a one-time light heavyweight champion of the UFC.

While Shaquille O’Neal entertained the notion of stepping into the cage himself but decided against it. Shaq is presently the President of Basketball at Reebok and chose to concentrate on his basketball career instead of exploring other commercial ventures.