A controversial title match between UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort will headline UFC 173 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 24.
“I’ve fought Anderson Silva twice, arguably the greatest ever, but I look forward to this new challenge,” Weidman (11-0) told ESPN.com’s Franklin McNeil following the announcement. “I will approach this fight like I always do and hope for the best: that I come out victorious.”
The Memorial Day weekend fight will be Weidman’s second title defense, following last month’s gruesome win over Silva. Since his 2011 UFC debut, Weidman has powered through the middleweight division reaping notable victories against Demian Maia, Mark Munoz, and two over ‘The Spider.’
Belfort (24-10) heads into UFC 173 an underdog for multiple reasons. Aside from it being his second-ever middleweight title fight, ‘The Phenom’ will again request a therapeutic-use exemption from the Nevada State Athletic Commission because of his low testosterone level. Belfort has been granted TUE’s for many of his previous fights, including last November’s UFC Fight Night 32 bout with Dan Henderson. While TUE’s, and more specifically testosterone replacement therapy, is frowned upon in mixed martial arts, Belfort continues to claim that he cannot compete without the supplements.
The NSAC can decline Belfort’s request, leaving the UFC without a main event during one the year’s biggest holidays. Earlier this week the Association of Ringside Physicians released a statement denouncing the use of TUE and TRT in combat sports, a stance UFC President Dana White openly supports. With athletic commission across the country facing pressure to change their stance on performance-enhancing drugs, it is only a matter of time before fighters like Belfort are forced to compete without an advantage.
Preceding the Weidman-Belfort title fight will be a grudge match between The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 coaches Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.
Stay tuned to Scifighting.com as more matches are announced.