As we reported earlier, Anderson Silva will be out of action longer than originally thought. The UFC middleweight champion recently underwent elbow surgery and says that he may not be able to fight until April. Silva was originally scheduled to face top contender Vitor Belfort at UFC 109 on February 6, 2010, however Fighters Only Magazine is reporting that Belfort will now face Nate Marquardt.
Belfort recently returned to the UFC after a four year absence in September and defeated Rich Franklin in the first round with a TKO at UFC 103. He was riding a four fight win streak prior to rejoining the UFC. His last two fights came in the now defunct Affliction promotion where he viciously knocked out Matt Lindland and Terry Martin. Belfort has fought some of the biggest names in MMA including Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture and Wanderlei Silva. Despite not having fought at middleweight since his return, Belfort was moved to the front of the line of contenders for Silva.
Marquardt has stopped his last three opponents with his most recent victory being a 21 second knockout over submission ace Demian Maia at UFC 102. Despite already having lost to Silva via TKO at UFC 73, Marquardt felt that he should have received the shot at Silva, and was upset when it went to Belfort.
“To me, it’s not logical that Vitor would get a shot after one fight at 195,” Marquardt recently told HDNet’s Inside MMA. “It was his first fight back in the UFC, it wasn’t even a middleweight fight, and he gets a middleweight title shot? It doesn’t make sense to me, but it’s not my decision, and I don’t really care, I just want to fight.”
Belfort surprisingly agreed with Marquardt’s assessment in an interview with Ariel Helwani of Fanhouse.com.
“I didn’t look for the fight. Actually, I’d like to have a couple more fights. But you know, I think he deserves it. Nate Marquardt deserves the fight.” He further explained, “I didn’t call the fight. I’m just an employee.”
Now Belfort and Marquardt get a chance to determine who is the true top contender for Silva’s crown. Stay tuned to FightLine.com for further updates on this story.