News is breaking out of Brazil that the grudge match between The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 coaches Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen has been scrapped from the UFC 175 card and, shockingly, Silva will be replaced by Vitor Belfort. The news was first reported on Twitter by multiple sources from GloboTV, the UFC's broadcast partner in Brazil:
Breaking!!! Wanderlei Silva out, Vitor Belfort now faces Chael Sonnen at UFC 175 -> http://t.co/3zAOEszLqd— Ivan Raupp (@IvanRaupp) May 28, 2014
Wanderlei missed exames and his license was denied. Belfort did all the exams and tested negative for them all.
— Ivan Raupp (@IvanRaupp) May 28, 2014
The news is surprising on multiple fronts.
First and foremost is the nature of Silva being removed from the fight. Sonnen has been publicly barbing Silva since the show began taping regarding his unwillingness to commit to a date for the fight. Sonnen stated in April that Silva was trying to "weasel out" of the fight. While this could have easily been chalked up as gamesmanship on Sonnen's part, the fact that the bout was repeatedly rescheduled raised many eyebrows, and if this report proves true, it all but confirms that Silva is, indeed, "ducking" Sonnen.
Secondly is the fact that Vitor Belfort will be replacing Silva. Belfort was originally slated to face Chris Weidman at UFC 173, but was pulled, or possibly withdrew, from the bout following the Nevada State Athletic commission's ban on TRT use in MMA. UFC President Dana White speculated following UFC 172 that Belfort's troubles with the NSAC were nowhere close to being over, and all but laughed at his desire to face off with Weidman...who was rescheduled to face Lyoto Machida at UFC 175.
Suffice it to say, it is strange that Belfort would be willing to face Sonnen when he has a title shot seemingly lined up, and even stranger that he is suddenly good to go for UFC 175.
News is still breaking, so keep an eye out here for more updates as they become available.
Vinny Magalhaes, a friend, training partner and assistant coach to Sonnen on The Ultimate Fighter season 17 and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 has confirmed the news:
Not just a rumor. It's confirmed by The American Gangster himself.— Vinny Magalhaes (@VinnyMMA) May 28, 2014
Additionally, multiple sources are reporting that the fight will be at 205 pounds, but the winner will be granted a shot at the middleweight (185-pound) title:
Yes, Belfort and Sonnen will fight at 205 http://t.co/X3On4KHLYX— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) May 28, 2014
According to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, Belfort is, indeed, not licensed to fight in Nevada at this time:
Vitor Belfort is still not licensed in Nevada. Waiting to hear back on the tests he reportedly passed, but as of today, he's not licensed.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 28, 2014
NSAC Executive Director Robert Bennett spoke to MMAFighting.com's Shaun Al-Shatti:
According to NSAC Exec. Director Robert Bennett, Wanderlei Silva had "ample time" to file for a license to fight in Nevada & chose not to.— Shaun Al-Shatti (@shaunalshatti) May 28, 2014
It is hard to come up with a rational explanation for why Silva would do this, other than that he was looking to get out of the fight with Sonnen.
Fox Sports' Damon Martin has tweeted the following:
UFC confirms Wanderlei had licensing issue so they replaced him with Vitor Belfort. Fight with Chael is on for UFC 175— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) May 28, 2014
Sonnen gave his take regarding Silva, confirmed the fight with Belfort and its status as a middleweight title eliminator. You can read the full report here.
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