Today, UFC president Dana White spoke with MMAJunkie.com concerning UFC middleweight fighter Vitor Belfort’s recent promotion from a number one contenders bout with Yushin Okami to a full-fledged title shot against middleweight champ Anderson Silva. “The Phenom” was awarded the shot in the wake of previous number one contender Chael Sonnen’s recent positive performance enhancing drug test. White spoke with MMAJunkie.com today about the switch.
“Come on,” White said to any who would say that Belfort doesn’t deserve the shot. “Vitor Belfort has been around forever. He fought at heavyweight. He fought at light heavyweight. He’s fought the best all over the world, and the guy’s going to fight at 185.”
Sonnen was granted an immediate rematch against Silva after dominating the champ over the majority of five rounds before succumbing to a last-ditch triangle choke thrown on by the champ. White contends that many fans wanted to see Belfort take on Silva next in Sonnen’s stead anyway, so “The Phenom” was the natural choice to replace him.
“There were a lot of people calling for the Belfort fight when we made the Chael rematch,” said White. “But I know Vitor wanted that fight, so it made sense.”
The news of Sonnen’s positive test was a shock to just about everyone, White included. And although he was less than thrilled to hear that one of his star fighters (love him or hate him, people tune in to watch Sonnen) had tested positive for steroids, White said that this sort of bad news comes with the territory.
“Am I disappointed? Yes, absolutely,” White said. “But if you guys realized how much bad [expletive] I put up with on a daily basis, you almost start to get numb to it. So you move on, and Chael is going to face the consequences and go before the commission, and we’ll work things out.”
White indicated to MMAJunkie that he is looking to schedule the Silva-Belfort match (which was originally supposed to be the main event of UFC 112) for the UFC’s annual New Year’s Eve show. Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, recently revealed that Silva may need longer than that to recover from the rib injury he sustained while defending his belt against Sonnen.