Before Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva went toe-to-toe in the UFC 147 main event last night (June 23, 2012) at the Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, there was another mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who was supposed to headline the cursed card.
"The Phenom" was selected to coach opposite the "Axe Murderer" on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil," with the Brazilians then squaring off at the end of the show to settle their score, which is a rivalry that dates back to 1998. But, then fate intervened in the form of a broken hand in training, sidelining Belfort and forcing Franklin into fill-in on relatively short notice.
Franklin survived a second round scare in his fight with Silva and then went on to notch a unanimous decision victory after five gritty rounds of action. In the process, he handed Silva another loss inside the Octagon -- his fifth in eight appearances -- and cast another shadow over his fight future.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White wasn't exactly sure about what to do with Silva next after his UFC 147 performance, but he did say that the Belfort rematch is definitely not in the works.
"I am happy with the main event. Wanderlei [Silva] and Rich [Franklin] are both warriors and have been for a long time," he said. "Wanderlei almost won that fight. It is tough to say [what's next]. I said it last night, he used to be my arch nemesis over at PRIDE and I wanted that Chuck fight since PRIDE. But since he came to the UFC, he has been great, acting like he has been in the UFC for a long time. He has been honest and great and he is going to be with the UFC for a long time whether he is fighting or not."
Silva was unavailable for comment immediately after the bout, so it's impossible to determine whether or not he himself has made a decision. However, the 35-year-old has accomplished a tremendous amount in his long, storied and very tough professional career.
And fighting in Brazil was apparently on his bucket list.
"I gave my best, thank you for all support messages," Silva said via Twitter. "It was a dream come true fight here in Brazil, from the bottom of my heart, thank you."
If he does live to fight another day, it won't be against Belfort. White basically killed the possibility of the rematch happening anytime soon.
"Vitor's next fight will not be against Wanderlei, he just lost tonight," White said. "When Vitor heals up, we will see what happens and go from there."