Photo of Vitor Belfort by Esther Lin for AllElbows.com
Undefeated top 185-pound prospect Chris Weidman (9-0), who recently smashed fellow contender Mark Munoz at UFC on FUEL TV 4, is ready for a crack at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title, currently held by reigning division champion Anderson Silva.
What you didn't know, perhaps, is that Vitor Belfort might be standing in his way. That's according to a report from Tatame.com, who gets the skinny from "The Phenom" himself as the Brazilian gears up for his next fight in Rio.
"(Chris) Weidman, or the winner of the Cuban vs. (Tim) Boetsch. I'm waiting for my confirmation on the Rio card, see who's gonna be my opponent. Nobody send me anything yet. I believe I'll get an answer on that next week. Muñoz has no guard, he's not a jiu-jitsu fighter. That's a wrestler vs. wrestler match-up, who got to the top position would win. He was tagged, that's it. I don't care what [Weidman's] gonna do. I know what I'm gonna do: Go for the knockout or the submission."
Perhaps this new wrinkle is why UFC President Dana White has been non-committal on Weidman's potential title shot.
After pink-slipping Anthony Johnson at the UFC 142 event back in January, Belfort (21-9) assumed the role of Ultimate Fighter (TUF) coach opposite longtime rival Wanderlei Silva. The two were expected to face off at UFC 147 in June, but "The Phenom" broke his hand in training camp and withdrew from their highly-anticipated rematch.
"The Axe Murderer" went on to lose a spirited decision to late-replacement Rich Franklin.
In defeat, Wandy is unlikely to get another crack at Belfort, who is 2-0 with two finishes since getting kicked the (expletive) out by "The Spider" in early 2011. He's been pining for a rematch ever since and could make a convincing argument if he can finish off Weidman, or the winner of Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch, who face off at UFC 149 this Saturday night (July 21, 2012) in Calgary.
Fantasy matchmakers, let's hear your take.