Speculation about a potential Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort blockbuster for the UFC middleweight title began right after “The All-American” beat former longtime 185-pound champ Anderson Silva at UFC 168 last December.
And today, that anticipated bout’s date has been confirmed, as Weidman and Belfort will throw down in the main event of UFC 173 on May 24 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC officials, who confirmed the announcement today, had been looking to book the fight for either Memorial Day of Fourth of July weekend.
There aren’t too many fighters who can match the momentum of either Weidman or Belfort right now. Long-Island centered Weidman comes in off of two stoppage victories over arguably the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts, while Belfort put three top-level foes to sleep with emphatic headkicks last year.
This is a bout that could go down in history, and it’s already shrouded in controversy. Much has been made about Belfort’s highly publicized use of testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT), and “The Phenom” has already stated he’ll be a applying for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to use the therapy for his fight against Weidman.
So let the floodgates begin.
If Belfort shocks the world and knocks out the champ, there will always be a significant amount of doubt in the minds of many. Weidman has stated that he doesn’t think Belfort’s use is fair and that Belfort can simply use other illegal performance-enhancing drugs and cycle off of them come fight time.
In any case, the debate over TRT rages on because it will now be at the center of one of the most anticipated title fights of 2014. Will there be an asterisk over a Belfort title reign?
Or does Weidman have what it takes to knock off the surging Belfort, TRT or not? We’ll find out this Memorial Day weekend. Who is your early pick to walk out with the belt?
Outer Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea for USA TODAY Sports