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From a promotional standpoint, it's unfortunate for the famous Mousasi to risk a three-round main event against a last-minute replacement with no name value, but as MMA Junkie reports, former UFC champion Vitor Belfort had been an option at one point:
"Vitor Belfort stepped up, and there were talks with my manager, and he wanted to take the fight on short notice," said Mousasi, who isn't sure what ultimately happened with the possibility. "So we would have gladly accepted that fight."
Belfort last competed in Brazil against Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7, where "The Phenom" defeated "The Count" with a highlight reel head kick in the first round.
However, Belfort's next move is unclear, as the UFC decided against offering him a rematch against middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Vitor Belfort vs. Gegard Mousasi?
Bisping, on the other hand, actually had a long-sought title shot against Silva promised to him if he somehow managed to overcome Belfort.
(Belfort is 3-1 since his loss to Silva, including a competitive effort against light heavyweight Jon Jones at UFC 152.)
Following his win, Belfort instead called out Chael Sonnen and Jones in a frantic, rambling post-fight interview, but the two Ultimate Fighter 17 coaches are currently deadlocked for their title fight at UFC 159 in New Jersey.
Belfort has recently come under scrutiny for his admitted use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which the 36-year-old fighter claimed to Brazilian publication TATAME (via Bloody Elbow) was known to the UFC all along:
The UFC always knew that I use, do not do it to cheat. I have medical monitoring and UFC also accompanies it. Never broken through anything, always acted cleanly. Do blood tests every week to equal the testosterone levels of a person my age. Many people are averse to treatment. I am not. I am in favor of people being open and fair in what they are doing.
It's currently unknown why Belfort was not allowed to step into the main event in Stockholm, Sweden, but Mousasi says that he's happy to still be fighting (via MMA Junkie).
Betting books currently have the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and two-division DREAM champion pegged as high as a -1350 favorite to win (via BestFightOdds). Mousasi carries a 33-3-2 record from various MMA promotions, with his only loss in over five years coming against former Strikeforce champion Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal.