One of the most highly anticipated fights of the summer has just been replaced by one of the nastiest rivalries in the sport.
Wanderlei Silva has been forced out of his upcoming bout against Chael Sonnen for unknown reasons, and will be unable to compete at UFC 175 in July. In his place, Vitor Belfort has been tapped as a replacement to step in and face Sonnen on July 5 in Las Vegas.
The news of the switch was first confirmed by Combate in Brazil and additionally on Twitter by MMA personality Front Row Brian, who spoke to Sonnen directly while he was filming on the set of UFC Tonight to verify the news.
The reason for Silva’s departure from the fight has not be publicized, but Belfort stepping certainly deserves to go under the microscope.
Belfort was originally scheduled to meet middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 173, but was removed from the card after the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and voided all past therapeutic use exemptions for athletes competing in the state. Belfort was one of those fighters on TRT so he dropped out of the fight to allow his body time to adjust to life after the treatment.
Since that time, Belfort has fallen off the radar and wasn’t expected to fight any time soon, but will now return in July.
Instead of facing Weidman — who is already on the card against Lyoto Machida — he will step in to face Sonnen in a light heavyweight bout on the main card for pay-per-view.
Sonnen and Belfort have a long history together, exchanging words via interviews for the better part of the last few years and now the rivalry will finally come to a head when they square off in July.
Sonnen will have more comments about the bout during Wednesday night’s episode of UFC Tonight airing on FOX Sports 1 at 8p ET.