Recent rumors have pointed towards Tim Kennedy as Vitor Belfort’s next opponent. However, Belfort’s wife and manager Joana Prado has stated to Brazil’s Combate that “The Phenom” will only return to the middleweight division to fight for the UFC title.
She added that, “It doesn’t make sense that Vitor, who is No. 1 in the rankings, should fight against No. 2, No. 6 or No. 10 in his weight class. His next fight in the middleweight class will be against the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva. “
Prado did not rule out the possibility of Belfort moving up in weight to fight at 205 though, or even heavyweight.
“If the UFC wishes him to fight in any class above middleweight, we are at their disposal,” she said. “It can be anyone, Tim Kennedy, even Roy Nelson, but it has to be at 205 pounds or heavyweight – he’ll even fight as a heavyweight. Vitor wants to fight, but in his weight class, only if for the belt.”
Belfort recently returned to the middleweight division after losing a title fight against LHW champion Jon Jones, submitting to a keylock in the fourth round. His middleweight run has been more successful, with Belfort picking up recent knock-out victories against Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold.
According to just about any ranking, Belfort is in fact number three in the middleweight division, below Anderson Silva and champ Chris Weidman. With that in mind, Prado’s remarks do make sense. Tim Kennedy would be a fine opponent for Belfort to tangle with at 205, but he doesn’t even scratch the Top 10 of the UFC’s middleweight rankings.
As anyone who follows the sport can tell you though, Dana White does not look kindly on fighters who decline the matches the UFC sets up for them. If Belfort turns down an offer to fight Kennedy, a bout with the winner of Weidman vs Silva II may be up in the air as well.
For reference, the UFC’s official middleweight rankings are as follows:
Champion : Chris Weidman
1. Anderson Silva
2. Vitor Belfort
3. Yushin Okami
4. Michael Bisping
5. Ronaldo Souza
6. Mark Munoz
7. Costa Philippou
8. Luke Rockhold
9. Chael Sonnen
10. Tim Boetsch