A planned match for later this year, pitting Vitor Belfort against former Strikeforce middleweight contender Tim Kennedy, has now been scrapped after the Brazilian opted against taking the fight.
Belfort is currently riding a two-fight win streak with knockout victories over Michael Bisping and former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold, but sits on the outside looking in for a title fight at 185 pounds while awaiting the UFC 168 rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva to be settled.
Belfort's wife Joana Prado recently told globo.com (h/t MMA Weekly) that her husband has no desire to face Kennedy or any other middleweight unless he's competing for the UFC belt at 185 pounds. He would happily stay busy in the interim fighting at a catchweight of 195 pounds, light heavyweight or even heavyweight, but no fights at middleweight make sense except the title fight.
One fight that does interest him, however, is a showdown with UFC bad boy Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen is just a couple of weeks away from a light heavyweight bout against former UFC champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston, which will air on Fox Sports 1. After that fight is finished, Sonnen has already expressed his desire to return to the middleweight division after a brief stay at 205 pounds.
While his focus remains on Rua right now, Sonnen says he would happily accept Belfort's challenge, but only if the stakes are raised a bit.
Sonnen wants to claim Belfort's status as the No. 1 contender in the middleweight division, so if they can agree to those stipulations, he proposes the fight take place at UFC 168, when Silva will meet Weidman with the belt up for grabs in the main event.
“Vitor, I accept. However, he has a title of No. 1 contender. If he’s willing to put that on line, not only will I fight him, but I’ll do it on December 28. Weidman defends his title, Rousey defends her title, and Vitor, you have a title and I want you to defend it against me," Sonnen shouted on UFC Tonight.
Belfort and Sonnen have engaged in a war of words in the past, so the fight makes all the sense in the world, but several things have to happen before it can be booked.
First, Sonnen has to beat Rua in his upcoming fight. A loss would mark three defeats in a row for Sonnen, and no matter how much he sells a fight, the UFC can hardly justify putting him in against the No. 1 contender in the division with that kind of record.
Belfort also has to come down off his high horse and agree to meet Sonnen at middleweight instead of a ludicrous catchweight fight that would make no sense whatsoever.
If all the pieces fit into place, however, a Belfort vs. Sonnen showdown at UFC 168 could push that card even further into being possibly the biggest UFC show of all time.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
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