This coming May 24th, UFC fans will get to see one of the premier matches that the promotion will put on through 2014, when middleweight champion Chris ‘All-American’ Weidman defends his belt for the second time, and as against new challenger and number two ranked, Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort.

The match is set to take place at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas and will mark Belfort’s first appearance in ‘Sin City’ since February of 2011; UFC 126; KO loss to Anderson Silva.

The pair will headline the UFC 173 card and in a fight that fans are now beginning to anticipate heavily, as the bout features two fighters that many fans either love or hate.

In terms of Chris Weidman, many fans love him for his ‘awe shucks’, humble, yet confident manner, as backed up by his 7 – 0 record, and two dispatches of the legendary Anderson Silva; UFC 162 / 168. However, there are fans that find Weidman full of himself and want to see him knocked off his perch. Beyond that, there’s the throng of Silva fans that just want to see him lose.

Regarding Vitor Belfort, it all boils down to one thing, testosterone replacement therapy or TRT. He’s on it and everyone knows it, and unlike many other TRT fighters in the sport, ones like Frank Mir for example, Belfort is having great success. As such, fans fall into two camps on Vitor Belfort. Fans either love him, accepting his sanctioned TRT use and subsequently basking in the glory that Belfort has found over the last three years, or they hate him. And the reason they hate him is because of his TRT use. To the point, anti-Belfort fans view him as a cheat, sanctions or no sanctions, and they want him to lose. And if Weidman is the man to make that happen, so be it and regardless of whether or not they like the All-American. 

The clash between these two fighters brings these various fandoms and anti-fandoms together, resulting in a strange mix of allegiances. In some instances, fans that can’t stand Belfort will be rooting for him, and because they either want Weidman flattened for beating Silva or simply because they can’t stand the All-American. In the other instance, fans that feel no love for the champ will be pulling for him to drop Belfort and simply to derail his TRT train. That which is left over, and will be cheering either Weidman or Belfort on to win, could comfortable be labeled as their ‘real fans.’

Today, the UFC released an Instagram photo of the two great fighters and as they stared one another down, while draped in their respective nation’s flags; Weidman with the American and Belfort with the Brazilian.

It’s an epic photo and the two look all business.

Weidman looks confident and assured, and appears to have a hint of a smile on his face. For his part, Belfort looks intense and has his usual stone cold stare.

In looking at the two, fans know this is going to be a great fight. It could well be short, but it’s going to be a great fight. Weidman wants to put his post-Silva stamp on the middleweight division and there could be no better fighter to accomplish that with, right now, than Vitor Belfort. That said, Belfort wants, very badly, the belt that Weidman holds.

In view of it, this fight could well be an early candidate for either fight of the year or knockout of the year. Both of these fighters are tough, focused, determined and highly skilled. If Weidman can take out Belfort and particularly on the heels of two Silva victories, then truly, he is a great fighter; if he hasn’t already proven it, to all. From there, it’s onto Machida, Souza and Mousasi.

However, if Belfort beats Weidman and takes the middleweight belt, then he will have beaten the man that beat the man. As such, and if Silva were to come back this year, it would make for a heck of a great return match for the former champion, given, that is, that the Phenom could hold onto the belt until Silva’s return. Belfort / Silva II would be a great fight and one that Anderson Silva might be very much interested in; particularly, if it was for the belt.   

Ah, the possibilities from this match.