It was suppose to be inside an 80,000 seat stadium and shatter any and all UFC event attendance records. It was to be co-headlined by rivals Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort who were to re-engage after a clash at UFC: 'Brazil' when 'The Phenom' showed why he had the moniker.
It all went down hill very fast.
At a press conference where Anderson Silva thought was the announcement of his fight against Sonnen at UFC 147 in Brazil was really the change to UFC 148 in Las Vegas It was then rumored that UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo was going to step in but, that too was nixed.
The main event was then announced as the less-vaunted rematch of 'The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil' coaches Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei and this past Saturday (May 28th) it was revealed that Vitor Belfort broke his hand and now is sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Who will face 'The Axe Murderer?' Join me for a few ideas of mine
Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold (9-1)
The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) stand out has been on a tear of late after dispatching Ronaldo Souza last September to claim his first major title in mixed martial arts (MMA). Rockhold went on to defend his newly crowned title against UFC castaway Keith Jardine and smashed him in a 1st round TKO.
Rockhold is currently scheduled to face former Strikeforce middleweight contender Tim Kennedy but nothing official has been released.
Rockhold is hardly ever in a boring tilt and has eight of his nine wins end by either submission or strikes., He is on a seven-fight win streak, beat a once notable UFC veteran and arguably a top 15 middleweight in Souza. This would also be a great way to debut Rockhold but with his Showtime only notoriety, the UFC may have sub 200K pay per views if the slot is Rockhold's.
UFC middleweight Alan Belcher (18-6)
'The Talent' Alan Belcher is coming off his most hyped win when he easily dispatched the feared ankle killer in Rousimar Palhares at UFC on Fox 3. He pummeled the grappler and even put himself in danger many times to gain position.
Belcher has been impressive since UFC 100 when he lost a razor-thin split decision to Yoshiro Akiyama. Many people thought Belcher won and if he had, he'd be currently riding seven fight win streak. He has wins over the likes of former UFC middleweight contender Patrick Cote, Ed Herman, PRIDE welterweight grand prix winner Denis Kang and former Segonku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago.
If we get a Belcher-Silva fight we'll definitely get a good stand up tilt, an insight on Belcher's draw power and see if a big main event win parlays either up the contender ladder.
Strikeforce middleweight Robbie Lawler (19-9, 1 NC)
The former Miletich smasher has been an imperfect fighter as his grappling has been the reason he has never climbed to the next tier. He has been an Elite XC middleweight champion and he actually gave Ronaldo Souza a run at his money and championship until 'Jacare' subbed him.
He has had amazing highlight knockouts of Joey Villasenor (Pride 32), Frank Trigg (Icon Sport), Matt Lindland ( Strikeforce: St. Louis) and Melvin Manhoef (Strikeforce: Miami). He has the capabilities on putting the most exciting bout of the night and the year at times.
Lawler, is a former UFC fighter so that adds to his appeal and draw. He has down well in ratings on Showtime and is exciting. He will surely stand with Wanderlei which means you get the best of both win or lose.
'Suga' Rashad Evans 17-2-1
I don't like a fighter dropping weight after one bumpy ride but this move makes a lot of sense and here is why. Evans has done it all at 205 pounds and as long as Jon Jones is the champion it'll take a bit to get back up there. He is getting older and another title hunt is on his mind as it should be.
He could easily parlay 1 or 2 wins into a UFC middleweight title shot based on his draw alone. A fantasy showdown with Anderson Silva would be one of those elusive 'superfights' we've all wanted. It would be another huge pay day for the former light heavyweight champion.
Evans, has the wrestling, striking and grappling to deal with anyone at 185-pounds and no one would oversize him like some have at 205 pounds. I also think he and Wanderlei would be a fun tilt since Evans would want to prove himself against another (fading) legend and a big pay per view showdown would be a good way to debut.
I wouldn't see the drop as a sign of defeat but rather seeing what he can do against guys more suited to his size and if he and Silva would meet up in a fight I'd love to see.
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