LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 07: Mixed martial artist Vitor Belfort arrives at the sixth annual Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards at The Palazzo Las Vegas on February 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo : Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Anderson Silva is all set to make his much-awaited return in February, facing Michael Bispin in a UFC Fight Night card set for London.
While that is a welcome development, it seems Silva should have been part of UFC 197 had talks with Vitor Belfort not bogged down, as per MMA Fighting.com. As it turns out, initial plans were to stage a Silva vs. Belfort II at the Arena de Baxaida soccer stadium in Curitiba, making the tiff the co-main event.
The main event for UFC 197 will see Fabricio Werdum in a rematch with Cain Velasquez. Also on the cards is Holly Holm who will be making her first title defense against Miesha Tate.
A Belfort vs. Silva rematch would have been interesting with Belfort looking to avenge that KO loss he suffered at the hands of Silva back in 2011 during UFC 126. But as it turns out, Belfort reportedly turned down that opportunity with the Brazilian opting to wait on the Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman fight.
Rockhold won that match and as a consolation, called out Belfort. Rockhold is apparently keen on avenging his loss to Belfort back in 2013 with some personal vendetta on the side. This apparently had something to do with Belfort on testosterone-replacement therapy.
As far as Belfort is concerned, it was a matter of choice and he opted to wait for an opportunity at the title held by Rockhold than a rematch with the returning Silva.
He may, however, have to wait since a rematch between Rockhold and Weidman may be brewing.
As far as Belfort shunning the Silva fight, here is the official statement made by Decker via Combate.
“Many people said Vitor didn’t want this fight, and that wasn’t the truth. He wants it, he made it clear it will happen at some time, but for him, thinking about his career and what he has ahead of him at this moment, this fight wouldn’t make sense. We were running out of time, and the UFC needed to announce the UFC 196 main event in Las Vegas.”
With that ironed out, Belfort may have to wait in the sidelines. Though his name has been mentioned as one of the possible opponents for Rockhold, there are other names on the list that are in consideration.
Aside from Weidman, the list includes Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza who are seen as more realistic challengers over Belfort. Belfort lost his chance when he bowed to Chris Weidman via TKO in May last year.