Some have to wait years for a UFC title shot (please see: Yushin Okami), while others get their opportunity handed to them on a silver platter (please See: Brock Lesnar). After his thunderous return to the Octagon Saturday night at UFC 103, former UFC lightweight champ Vitor Belfort appears headed on a one-way trip towards a 185-pound title fight.
“The question that I had coming into this fight was, ‘What Vitor are we going to see?’” UFC president Dana White said at the UFC 103 post-fight presser. “The explosive Vitor that goes right after [his opponents], or the Vitor that lays back and couldn’t pull the trigger? He pulled the trigger tonight, and as soon as he hurt [Rich Franklin], he went right in for the kill.”
The question the fans have after this bout is, ‘Will Vitor be getting an immediate shot at Anderson Siva’s middleweight crown following his first round knockout of Franklin?’
There have been a few fighters that were “promised” shots at the strap in the past, however subsequent performances by other middleweights caused the organization to reshuffle the decks, multiple times in fact.
It was believed that Nate Marquardt or Dan Henderson had next dibs, however both have suffered losses to Silva in the past, so White is considering some new blood, particularly after Belfort’s 3:02 destruction of “Ace”.
“To be honest with you, the way the last two fights happened with Marquardt and Henderson against Anderson Silva, I think it would be better to see them fight each other, and the winner of that become the next contender,” White said.
The “NEXT” contender? So who’s the #1 contender?
“I think Vitor is ready to fight Anderson Silva,” White emphatically stated. So it looks like Belfort will be getting an immediate shot, however whatever happened to Yushin Okami? Remember him? He holds a 23-4 pro record and has only lost to the aforementioned Franklin and former EliteXC welterweight champ Jake Shields in his last 17 scraps, a span running over three years.
Having too much talent is a luxury any organization wishes they had to deal with, and the UFC’s middleweight class is no different, especially considering it was once the UFC’s most depth deprived . . . by far.
“It’s good to have Vitor,” White said. “There was this place in the 185-pound division where you have this guy that’s so dominant. Any time you can come up with new and exciting fights for him, it’s great. “Actually, I love where we’re at right now. I love the fact that we have Vitor at that weight class.”
We’re not so sure that Marquardt and Hendo are as thrilled, however.