It has been a tough road for current middleweight champion Chris Weidman, who recently had to pull out of his scheduled UFC 184 title bout with Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort for the third time. Although Weidman should be ready to go around May putting him out of action for 18 months, Belfort is not too happy and has been calling for an interim title.
It seems as if the UFC agreed, offering “The Phenom” an interim title fight with Lyoto Machida, but Belfort oddly declined. It has also been made clear that the controversial Brazilian declined a bout against Gegard Mousasi as well. However, there is a top middleweight who is willing to step up and fight anyone for an interim title, and it happens to be No. 2-ranked Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
Souza is undefeated in his UFC career, boasting an impressive 4-0 record inside of the Octagon. His most recent victory was a third-round submission win over Mousasi last September. “Jacare’s” manager, Gilbert Faria, who spoke up to MMAFighting, believes an interim title should be made. He also believes that Belfort shouldn’t pick his opponents:
“”As a MMA fan and a fan of Vitor Belfort, I would like to see this fight between Weidman and Belfort. With Weidman’s injury and the fact that we don’t know when he’s going to be able to return, it’s the right decision to create an interim title,” Faria said. “If Vitor doesn’t want to fight or wants to pick opponents, he loses his right to fight for the interim title.
“If we look at the rankings, ‘Jacare’ is the next in line for the title. He can fight Lyoto Machida, Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero, or even Belfort for the interim title, and then wait for Weidman. Belfort is picking opponents, and that’s not what champions do. That’s wrong. And it’s also wrong to stop the whole division.”
“Jacare” was slated to battle Romero on the same card as Weidman and Belfort, but had to pull out due to pneumonia. However, it seems as if the former Strikeforce champion is healthy, back training, and eyeing a bout in April. His manager hopes this bout will be an interim title fight:
“‘Jacare’ is already back to training, healthy, and will be ready to fight anyone in April,” he said. “We don’t pick opponents. Belfort, Lyoto, Romero, Luke. Whoever they want, especially for the interim title, we will take the fight. We’re in. ‘Jacare’ is ready to become champion, and that will happen sooner or later. In April, we will be ready to fight anyone. The UFC can count on us.”
It definitely seems as if Souza has more of a champion’s attitude than Belfort, but does an interim title need to be made? And if there is going to be an interim title fight, which of the many hungry middleweight contenders should battle for it?