What was supposed to finally settle years of trash talk -- and at least three Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) match ups that never came to fruition, as well as an ENTIRE show, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil 3," dedicated to promoting their mutual hatred -- the showdown between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva appears dead forever.
"The Axe Murderer" has, indeed, been removed from the upcoming UFC 175 event (read full details here) because, according to Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) Executive Director, Robert Bennett (via Shaun Al-Shatti), Silva had "ample time" to file for a license to fight in Nevada and chose not to do it.
Something that should hardly come as a surprise to the fading Pride FC legend. And less than one week since a heated UFC 175 press conference (watch scuffle here) during which Silva promised, "On fight night I'm going to show that he's going to have to swallow everything he said."
Sonnen -- who long-predicted Silva would never make it to Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 5, 2014 -- responded to the bad news this evening on the latest edition of "UFC Tonight," as well as the likelihood that he will now fight top-ranked Middleweight contender, Vitor Belfort, in a 205-pound high stakes showdown instead.
He also claimed Silva refused to take an NSAC-administered drug test, which in his eyes, is admission of guilt.
"Wanderlei has operated his entire career under the shadow of suspicion that he was using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). However, he has never failed a drug test so we don't speculate on those types of things. That clean record came to a screeching halt on Saturday night. Not only did he fail his test, he refused to take a [drug] test. And as you know, a refusal is equal in the eyes of the commission to a failure... He ran from the test and I don't mean that figuratively -- they came to his gym and he literally ran, goes out of sight, and they go after him saying his name. I have not spoke to [NSAC], but I am going to speculate that they will revoke his license and perhaps his career with UFC will be done.... As for myself, I still will participate on the pay-per-view (PPV) on July 5. But, the stakes are up: I am now fighting for a No. 1 contender match, the winner of my match will take on the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida, and my opponent is Vitor Belfort."
Sonnen and Belfort have history, with the former volunteering to "arrange a date with Jesus" and the latter taking the bait hook, line and sinker. However, both men essentially competed in separate divisions, making a match senseless because "The Phenom" has been on the cusp of another 185-pound title shot.
But, with Middleweight champion Chris Weidman tied up with Lyoto Machida in UFC 175's main event -- and Silva's reluctance to file standard paperwork and allegedly avoid mandatory drug tests -- it seems the timing is right.
One big hurdle still remains, however, which is Belfort getting clearance from NSAC to compete in "Sin City." Company President Dana White has been both skeptical and nonchalant about Belfort getting the green light based on the recent ban on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and the Brazilian's previous checkered past with drug testing in the state.
Belfort reportedly has a license hearing set with NSAC next month (June 17, 2014), during which he will either be approved or denied to compete against Sonnen at UFC 175. He reportedly submitted an application to fight in the state of Nevada last week, according to MMAFighting.com:
Belfort's application will undergo a 'comprehensive review' at a June 17 meeting of NSAC officials, and while Bennett stated that no decision will be reached until the date of the meeting, he acknowledged that the commission will likely require Belfort to undergo supplementary drug testing before the commission reviews his license.
If he is denied, it's unclear at this time if UFC has Plan C running in the background for Sonnen.
Sonnen -- who has lost three of his last four bouts -- has challenged for UFC's 185-pound title twice already (UFC 117, UFC 148), while Belfort has competed for the same world title once before, too (UFC 126). Former champion, Anderson Silva, spoiled all three opportunities for both men..
UFC 175 will feature the aforementioned main event between Weidman vs. Machida, as well as a Bantamweight title fight between women's champion Ronda Rousey and Alexis Davis in the co-main event. To check out the latest UFC 175 fight card and rumors click here.