Feb. 27, 2014 shall go down as one of the most important dates in mixed martial arts (MMA) history.
With the Nevada State Athletic Commission's (NSAC) unanimous vote to ban Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) offering its full support of the decision, the biggest question was how it would affect the UFC 173 main event between UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort.
We already know the answer, even though the pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, doesn't take place until May 24, 2014. That's right, Belfort has already removed himself from the main event, allowing enough time for him to wean himself off TRT and, hopefully, prepare for a bout at a later date if the promotion is amenable.
Company president, Dana White, made the shocking late-night announcement on Fox Sports 1, revealing that former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida -- fresh off a unanimous decision win over Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 36 earlier this month -- will take his place.
What a twist.
Since a 2012 defeat at the hands of Jon Jones at UFC 152, Belfort became the face of TRT in MMA. Belfort returned to the middleweight division and was able to score three straight knockouts to earn his second shot at UFC middleweight gold. At almost 37 years old, his career has seen a resurgence.
To say it's an unlikely story would be an understatement.
In an interview with ESPN for a piece for "Outside The Lines" on the subject of TRT, Belfort stated that he feels condemned for doing something that is legal. He even attempted to distract away from his TRT usage by bringing up the very true fact that many fighters are taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) without additional testing.
In the same breath, Belfort has also claimed that no other fighter in MMA is tested as much as him.
In speaking with people within various athletic commissions, I know that those who are granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for TRT are subjected to out of competition testing. Should any of those fighters fail a test, they'd be suspended by the commission.
Those days are now done. And so, too, might be Belfort's championship aspirations.