Enter the Dragon. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida will replace Vitor Belfort and challenge Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight championship at UFC 173 on May 24.
Belfort is out after the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Thursday announced a ban of therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy. Belfort, who has previously been granted exceptions, will need time to become licensed in Nevada.
Since Belfort would not be able to fight in time, he agreed to withdraw from the fight in order to allow the UFC’s promotional efforts to move forward on time.
“With today’s ruling by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who’s undefeated since dropping to 185 pounds, will fight champion Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 173 in May,” UFC President Dana White said. “Machida was dominant in his last two fights, beating Gegard Mousasi and knocking out Mark Munoz.
White said Machida deserves the title shot.
“Machida wants nothing more than to avenge the losses of his friend and training partner (former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva), and become just the third fighter in UFC history to win titles in two separate weight classes.”
Nevada’s ban of TRT exemptions has gripped the MMA world. The move affects many top fighters who choose to fight in Las Vegas.
Weidman will now have to prepare for an entirely different fighter than Belfort. While Belfort comes straight ahead and pushes the action, Machida is counter-puncher who looks to make his opponents miss, and then counter them
Weidman stunned everybody in 2013 when he knocked out Anderson Silva to win the title and then TKO’d him again after Silva broke his leg during the fight.