After obliterating Michael Bisping with a vicious head-kick at UFC on FX 7, Vitor Belfort pleaded with the UFC brass to scrap Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen so that he might once again challenge for the promotion's light heavyweight strap.
There's two problems with Belfort's wish.
First, his victory came at middleweight, not light heavyweight. And while that didn't stop him (or Sonnen) from gaining the opportunity to fight for the title at 205, it's not going to happen again. Not with a promising bout already locked in place.
Second, there is no way the UFC passes on a chance to promote Jones vs. Sonnen. The reason they made that bout in the first place was because they wanted it, not because Sonnen forced their hand by winning his way into it. Heck, they even built an Ultimate Fighter season out of the rivalry.
So Belfort vs. Jones II just isn't realistic. Even if Sonnen is injured and forced to withdraw, it's more likely Alexander Gustafsson is pulled from his April contest against Gegard Mousasi to act as a replacement than it is that Belfort once again gets the call.
So what is realistic for the Brazilian? The obvious answer is a middleweight title eliminator fight.
The logical opponent? Chris Weidman.
Weidman has been out with an injury since July, but became the de facto No.1 middleweight contender when Bisping was removed from the equation.
He's who the road to Silva should now run through—he and Belfort—so pairing them off makes sense.
Though Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard will fight this March, their match just won't cut it as a title eliminator. Not when Lombard is 1-1 in the promotion and Okami was destroyed by Silva less than two years ago.
The UFC needs Weidman vs. Belfort to decide the most deserving contender to Silva's throne.
Of course, deserving is not always what decides such things. But in this case, the stars have aligned, and what should happen looks to be the same thing as what is easiest to make happen, as well as what is best for the UFC.
Weidman should be ready for a late spring or early summer contest, so it's not like Belfort would have to wait around for him.
If, however, the UFC wants badly enough for Silva to fight by early summer, then that changes everything. Then Belfort has to get his shot straightaway.
I mean, who else would fight Silva? Sonnen?
In any case, it isn't likely the UFC pushes the champ to fight before a viable contender is established, and the best way to establish a viable contender is to book Weidman vs. Belfort.
That's what should be next for the Brazilian.
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