The UFC has lost its biggest grudge fight of the year. Wanderlei Silva vs. Chael Sonnen is off but fear not Brazilians. A new Brazilian hero has stepped up to fight Sonnen and his name is Vitor Belfort.
The UFC released the following statement to the media. “Due to issues related to Wanderlei Silva’s licensing in the state of Nevada, the UFC was forced to seek a replacement opponent to face Chael Sonnen at UFC 175 on Saturday, July 5 in Las Vegas. Former UFC champion Vitor Belfort has accepted the fight with Sonnen, subject to Belfort receiving a license to compete from the Nevada Athletic Commission.”
Chael Sonnen told the media that Silva refused to take a drug test on Saturday. According to Sonnen, he ran from his own gym when the commission showed up to take a sample. One report cites NSAC executive director Robert Bennett commenting that Silva had “ample time” to apply for a license.
To some this was a huge shocker, yet others weren’t as surprised. MMA journalist Dave Meltzer has joked constantly on his podcasts about Silva vs. Sonnen not happening. Silva was late to sign the bout agreement, which quite honestly has been cursed from the start. It was rescheduled and now the fight is off. Even as news broke on Twitter, some in the media commented that they never believed the fight would happen in the first place.
One theory I have seen talked about online is that Wanderlei felt he couldn’t hang with Sonnen after Sonnen took him down so easily in their scuffle on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. It’s hard to wrap my head around that one because if there is one thing you could always say about Wanderlei, it is that he is as gutsy a fighter you’ll get…until now.
Vitor Belfort’s name came out of nowhere here. Belfort is in the midst of a career resurgence with a 3-0 win streak, all KO/TKO wins. Belfort was signed to challenge Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title when it was ruled that no fighter could use TRT exemptions any more. Belfort withdrew from the fight and went M.I.A. Even UFC president Dana White recently commented that he was unsure of Belfort’s future when asked about the Phenom.
What makes this so incredibly odd is that Belfort was probably going to get his title shot at Weidman on the July 5 card. Weidman was subsequently booked to fight Lyoto Machida once Belfort pulled out. Now after handing over his title shot, Belfort will presumably fight on the card anyway. Instead of fighting for the title, he is now fighting Sonnen who is 1-3 in his last four fights.
Unfortunately for Sonnen he just went from an easy win to an annihilation.