As it turns out, random drug tests are bad news for many of the UFC’s biggest stars.
After failing a random drug test, Chael Sonnen effectively retired from mixed martial arts—leaving the middleweight division’s No. 1 contender, Vitor Belfort, without an opponent to kick in the head at UFC 175.
Belfort won’t be entering the Octagon against anybody next month, the UFC told MMAjunkie.
This leaves the former champion and fans wondering who he’ll be standing across in his next fight in the UFC. He failed a drug test and wasn’t suspended, but was successfully replaced by Lyoto Machida in what would have been a title fight against Chris Weidman.
Months after the banning of testosterone replacement therapy, The Phenom is well on his way to becoming as transparent of a fighter as anyone can be. Fighters likely won’t use his alleged TRT abuse as a way of verbally luring him into the Octagon or as the crux of their complaints after they lose to him
He likely won’t be the exact same guy fans were accustomed to seeing these past three years—any allegedly clean fighter should be chomping at the bit to prove it.
Here are three fights Belfort should take in place of his UFC 175 bout:
Michael Bisping has changed his opinion on Belfort several times. He criticized his opponent before the fight about TRT use, but respectfully accepted the knockout loss immediately afterward.
It wasn’t until Belfort was pulled from a middleweight championship bout with Weidman that Bisping decided to sound off again.
A rematch with Belfort would not only help alleviate any concerns Bisping has about that loss on his record, but would also serve as a reliable source to prove how effective Belfort can be against the same opponent without TRT use.
A win over Bisping would prove he’s still as good as he once was.
A win over Tim Kennedy proves he’s even better.
Kennedy is probably the fastest rising fighter at middleweight outside of the top five. He captured a knockout finish against Rafael Natal with an injured quadriceps, and grinded out solid victories against Bisping and Roger Gracie.
With a 3-0 UFC record, Kennedy’s strength could pose several problems for the aging Belfort.
Winner of Weidman vs. Machida
This one’s probably the most obvious bout for Belfort to take.
Not only would it help the No. 1 contender’s body become accustomed to life after TRT, but it would also grant Belfort the title shot he was promised in the first place.
It’s difficult to predict whether the UFC would gift Weidman or Machida an immediate rematch, assuming the champion loses or the challenger plays victim to a controversial loss.
Either way, Belfort’s no longer the young fighter he once was and it’s unlikely he’ll find himself in the title picture ever again if he loses to anybody who doesn’t have gold wrapped around his waist. He’d be wise to wait.