The UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva will make his long awaited return at UFC 112. Silva is scheduled to defend the title against former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort. Vitor Belfort’s management confirmed the fight this past week. The fight will be a co-headliner with a lightweight title defense by B.J. Penn and the return of a former champion on the undercard. Needless to say, UFC 112 show is shaping up to be one of the most stacked shows in UFC history.
Anderson Silva’s fight will end the longest layoff that the Spider has had since joining the UFC. Silva’s last fight was back at UFC 101 in August. Silva destroyed Forrest Griffin making the former champion look like a kid fresh off of TUF. Silva was next scheduled to defend his middleweight title against Dan Henderson. UFC called an audible and went with Vitor Belfort instead, citing that there wasn’t much fan interest in a Henderson-Silva rematch. An elbow injury subsequently forced Silva into surgery and something of a self-imposed exile from the UFC.
[adinserter block=”1″]The fight only heightens the drama surrounding the UFC’s middleweight division. After losing to Silva in 2008, former Pride FC middleweight champion Dan Henderson rolled off three wins. After his impressive knockout win over Michael Bisping at UFC 100, Henderson was named the number-one contender. Something happened along the way that changed the UFC and Dana White’s minds. Following Belfort’s win over Rich Franklin, White started talking about a Silva-Belfort match before a Silva-Henderson match. Throw Nate Marquardt into the mix and you had more drama in this division than the Jersey Shore.
Once White said he was going with Belfort vs. Silva, Silva started talking about an elbow injury. Various rumors hit the Internet from Silva needing surgery and a lengthy leave of absence, to Silva fighting at UFC 108. Silva finally did have the surgery and the fight was put on hold. Belfort and Marquardt have both waited out the situation and neither man has fought since the number-one contender controversy arose. Marquardt will fight in the next few weeks, while Belfort has been idle. Dan Henderson turned down a fight with Marquardt during this mess which would have theoretically named a true number-one contender. All of this likely contributed to Henderson’s decision to sign with Strikeforce rather than re-sign with the UFC once his contract expired.
[adinserter block=”2″]The Silva-Belfort fight while intriguing, is quite suspect to me. I really can’t comprehend how the UFC can deem Vitor Belfort deserving of a title shot over Marquart or Henderson. Belfort has only had one fight in the last four years in the UFC. On top of that, I can’t remember Belfort ever even fighting at middleweight in the UFC. Belfort’s last fight against Rich Franklin was at a catchweight of 195 pounds. Dana White has been fixated on this fight for quite awhile, yet Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt have valid points when questioning whether Vitor Belfort should be receiving a title shot before them or anyone else for that matter. Apparently in the end it is more about the UFC selling tickets than the integrity of the division. Could you imagine the NFL changing the Super Bowl at the last minute to replace a team with a flashier team that didn’t win their way to the championship game?
UFC 112 is shaping up to be one of the most loaded shows in the history of the UFC. The show is scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates which is a pretty amazing feat in itself. In addition to Silva-Belfort, B.J. Penn announced on his website that he is scheduled to fight Frankie Edgar on the show. While not a marquee fight by any means, it definitely has the potential to provide fireworks. Additionally, former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes is scheduled to make his long awaited return to the UFC. Hughes will face the legendary Renzo Gracie who will make his UFC debut at UFC 112.
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