Belfort Replaces Silva in UFC 175
In a surprise twist, the melo-drama rivalry between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva will not end in the Octagon. Instead, Vitor Belfort takes Silva’s place, and battles Sonnen at UFC 175 in Las Vegas on July 5.
No Love Lost
There is no love lost between Chael Sonnen and Wanerlei Silva. Their feud started as early as 2010 when Silva told Sonnen to stop making derogatory remarks about Brazil and its fighters. The trash talking Sonnen had used Brazil and its fighters as punchlines during the build up to his two fights with Anderson Silva.
After years of throwing verbal punches at each other, a fight was inevitable. And after Sonnen called out Silva once again during his 2013 win over Shogun Rua, the UFC finally set the fight. Sonnen and Silva were named as opposing coaches for TUF 3 Brazil and were scheduled to fight each other on the finale of the competition on May 31. But the fight had to be rescheduled to UFC 175 after Silva was reportedly injured in a brawl with Sonnen during TUF 3 Brazil. And then here comes another twist.
Axing the Axe Murderer
In a statement, the UFC cited “issues relating to Silva’s licensing in the state of Nevada” forced them to look for a replacement opponent to face Sonnen at UFC 175. The UFC added that former UFC champion Vitor Belfort has agreed to take Silva’s spot, provided that Belfort gets a license from the Nevada Athletics State Comission.
But Sonnen refused to quit Wanderlei. He said that Silva literally “ran away”when the NSAC went to his gym for a random drug test. He said that although Silva has never failed a drug test in the past, he has “operated his entire career under the shadow of suspicion that he was using performance enchancing drugs. So with Silva refusing to take the test, Sonnen said that he “foresees” that the NSAC will revoke Wanderlei’s license and his UFC career may be done.
Vitor Belfort’s had his share of drug issues. While fighting for Pride FC in 2006, Vitor failed a test by the NSAC. Belfort’s been long rumored to be using PEDs. His physical appearance at age 37 and the explosiveness in his last three fights have made skeptics question him again.
Belfort was originally slated to faces Chris Weidman at UFC 175. But when the NSAC effectively banned TRT last February, Belfort had to pull out of the fight because he needed “time to adjust his body to training and fighting without TRT”. Belfort had the necessary permits and licenses to have TRT exemptions in the past. He said fighting without TRT would be a “disadvantage to him”. But with the ban, Belfort said that he will drop his TRT program and compete without it.
Last week, Belfort submitted his license application and urine samples. NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar revealed that Belfort’s tests were within the proper limits. He is due for a comprehensive review by the commission on June 17 before he gets his license.
Brazilian Phenom vs American Gangster
Although MMA fans anticipated a war between two bitter rivals, Sonnen and Belfort would make a better pair inside the octagon. Both are 37 years old and have been active in the ring. Both have also won their last bouts in impressive fashion. Silva, on the other hand has fought once in 2012 and once in 2013.
UFC president Dana White has confirmed that the bout will be fought at 185 lbs. and that it will be for the #1 contender spot for Vitor Belfort. White also said that should Belfort fail to get a license, there is no plan B and that the Sonnen fight will be scrapped. It will be interesting to see how phenomenal Belfort will be without TRT.
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