Even though Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is owned by a couple of guys who run a casino, it doesn't like to gamble with its mixed martial arts (MMA) business, which is why Vitor Belfort has been removed from the UFC 173 headliner opposite Chris Weidman, scheduled for May 24, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After all, if it's going to promote a middleweight title fight, it needs time to get its ducks in a row.
That's according to ZUFFA head cheese Lorenzo Fertitta, who told Yahoo! Sports that UFC couldn't roll the dice on Belfort's ability to get licensed -- as well as pass another pre-fight drug test -- in the few short weeks it has until the Memorial Day Weekend extravaganza.
"At the end of the day, we have a fight to promote on May 24. Chris is going to defend his title, and you know how this business works: You've got to get commercials in two to three months early. We've got to get key art done. We've got a fight to promote and Vitor, because [NSAC] came down with this ruling, Vitor is going to have to comply with that, which he is going to. But we don't know how long that process will take for him to get a license, whether it is two weeks or two months. We can't be in limbo as a company. We need to promote a fight, so the most logical thing was for Vitor to get going with his process to file an application in Nevada, and once that gets done, we could revisit this thing. But we have a fight to promote on the 24th and we can't sit around in limbo and wonder whether he's going to be eligible to fight."
Vitor Belfort out, Lyoto Machida in.
"The Phenom" needs 90 days to cycle off his testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), according to his doctor, following a landmark ruling from the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) last Thursday (Feb. 27, 2014) outlawing the controversial treatment.
That explanation lends credence to Belfort's claim that he was asked to step down (kinda/sorta).
After the dust settles and we all get back to the business of butt kicking, expect the Brazilian to be first in line to challenge the winner of "Weidman vs. Machida," who looked more like bosom buddies this past weekend in Columbus (pic) than actual opponents.
For more on Belfort and TRT Gate click here.