INDIANAPOLIS – Once Chael Sonnen was out, UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva wasted little time plugging Vitor Belfort into his slot.
With Sonnen (25-11-1 MMA, 4-4 UFC) recently failing a UFC 117 drug test and spoiling a scheduled rematch with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (27-4 MMA, 12-0 UFC), Belfort (19-8 MMA, 8-4 UFC) instead got the call.
But why would a guy who’s never even fought at middleweight under the UFC banner get an immediate title shot?
What would the UFC’s head honcho say to those skeptics?
“Come on,” White today told MMAjunie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Vitor Belfort has been around forever. He fought at heavyweight. He fought at light heavyweight. He’s fought the best all over the world, and the guy’s going to fight at 185.”
In fact, before Sonnen dominated the champ for 23 minutes until a heart-breaking submission loss in the final round, it was Belfort who was promised the title shot. Nagging injuries first opened the door for Demian Maia at UFC 112 and then Sonnen at UFC 117.
All the while, Silva has continued his record run of title defenses and patiently awaited a meeting with the fellow Brazilian.
And despite Belfort’s layoff, White thinks it’s a matchup fans still want to see. After all, despite Sonnen’s initially lopsided beatdown of the champ, some fans weren’t happy White and Co. promised him another shot at the belt. They wanted that initial matchup.