Chris Weidman v Vitor Belfort – UFC 184 – 28th February 2015
Coming in at #3 of my countdown of the UFC fights for early 2015, I’ve gone for the middleweight title fight at UFC 184 at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, where unbeaten champion Chris Weidman is scheduled to finally get his hands on ‘The Phenom’ Vitor Belfort.
The UFC middleweight title fight was postponed twice in 2014. At UFC 173 Belfort pulled out following the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s (NSAC) ban on testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT), and more recently Weidman was forced to withdraw from the UFC 181 card due to a broken hand.
Weidman hopes controversy and injury lay-offs are behind the match-up now. “That’s the guy I want to fight. That’s the fight we’ve been talking about for a year now,” he said at a recent UFC promotional event.
The champion, currently the #4 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, burst onto the middleweight scene when he knocked out longstanding champion Anderson Silva 18 months ago. Weidman was then handed a TKO victory in the re-match when Silva brutally broke his leg, before a more routine unanimous points win over Lyoto Machida at UFC 173, who had taken the fight on short notice due to Belfort’s withdrawal.
The challenger Vitor Belfort is no stranger to controversy but, based on current form, deserves what will be his third attempt at winning UFC middleweight gold. The impressive trail of destruction left in his wake in the past year includes Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson, but this title opportunity still remains overshadowed by outside factors.
The TRT debate continues to rumble on and mandatory random drug tests by both the NASC and their Californian counterparts are written into his licence to compete at the event. He has been given the all-clear from the NASC but with over two months until the fight you wouldn’t be surprised if further scandal ensued. Weidman echoes this sentiment, “I’ll be disgusted if something happens.”
Also on the card is the women’s bantamweight title bout between champion Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano, the challenger finally getting her chance after pulling out on a title shot through injury more than a year ago.