Vitor Belfort’s absence from the upcoming UFC 173 card has sparked huge debate; ‘The Phenom’ was first reported to have taken himself out of the title fight with Chris Weidman, but later Belfort claimed he was in fact replaced and will face the winner of Lyoto Machida & ‘The All-American’.
The news came just one day after the UFC and NSAC banned TRT use, and the Brazilian Commission has also followed suit today. Now whether Belfort removed himself, or was replaced by the UFC at 173, should Belfort get the shot at the winner of Machida vs. Weidman?
TRT aside (I know, it’s difficult) Belfort had an amazing year in 2013; knocking out Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson with three astonishing head kicks. Currently 6-2 since rejoining the promotion, Belfort’s only recent losses came to champions Anderson Silva and Jon Jones.
It’s hard to argue against Belfort’s form and finishing as of late, but the fact that he did it while on a now banned substance does lay question to their legitimacy. The announcement of Weidman/Machida and subsequent telling of ‘The Phenom’ facing the winner could well be the UFC giving Belfort the chance to get clean and retrain, TRT free.
The situation surrounding the UFC middleweight title picture is very messy right now, and only adds to the media storm surrounding the biggest MMA promotion in the world. Slating interviews in recent times, and findings on TRT abuse have meant a lot of bad press for the promotion.
The MMA world as a whole has been rocked by the last few days of news, and the UFC is becoming the centre of a whole load of unwanted press. Having Belfort come back clean and fight for the title is great for the rankings, but how will that bode for the legitimacy of the sport?
As far as the P’s and Q’s are concerned, Belfort was (allegedly) sticking to the rules and has now (apparently) stopped TRT use since the ban. A look at his physique in the lead up to his next fight will be telling, but even more so will be the result of that match up.
We enter, hopefully, a new generation of cleaner fighters in the UFC, and all of MMA. It’s likely that we will be absolutely free of the negative problems surrounding TRT very soon, although it may be a pretty tough time for Belfort trying to remain on top. Does he deserve the shot? That’s debatable, but one thing is for sure; Belfort’s week probably couldn’t have gone much worse.