By now you know that Vitor Belfort has been replaced by Lyoto Machida against Chris Weidman at UFC 173. That announcement came just hours after the Nevada Athletic Commission unanimously approved a motion to ban therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy.
What we don't know, and may never know for sure, are the results of the surprise drug test Belfort was asked to take by the NAC on Feb. 7 while in Las Vegas for the 2013 World MMA Awards. Those results could very well make this cloudy picture a whole lot more clear.
Here's what we know: the results of that test are in. They came in earlier this week. Belfort and his team knows them, the commission knows them, the UFC knows them. However, because he was tested prior to submitting an application for licensure in Nevada, and did not provide consent outside of the application to release the results, the commission is not at liberty to release the results. They would have already if Belfort had submitted his application for a license to fight in Nevada on May 24 against Weidman. The UFC is also not required to release the results and have not, thus far.
MMAFighting.com submitted a public records request to NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar, who replied that he was not legally allowed to share the results or discuss any aspect of them for that aforementioned reason. MMAFighting.com has attempted to contact Belfort, his wife Joanna, his lawyer Neal Tabachnick and his manager Glenn Robinson to discuss the results of the drug test but to no avail.
On Thursday, MMAFighting.com was told by multiple sources that the results would be publicly released later that day, but that is no longer the case.
Back in March 2012, Alistair Overeem failed a surprise drug test in Nevada, which led to him getting pulled from his UFC heavyweight title fight later that year against Junior dos Santos. Those results were released by the commission because he had already submitted a request for licensure in Nevada.
On Thursday's episode of "FOX Sports Live," Belfort provided this statement:
"The Nevada State Athletic Commission recently altered its policy and no longer will permit testosterone use exemptions, and will not permit a TRT program. As other jurisdictions may follow suit, I am going to drop my TRT program and compete in MMA without it. Given the time constraints involved between now and my proposed next bout in May, I have determined not to apply for a license to fight in Nevada at this time."
On Friday, he contradicted that statement via his Facebook page:
"Vitor Belfort didn’t give up on the fight," he wrote, "he was forced to give up.
"I never gave up on UFC 173 fight and never said that. Any information about it in the media is not true. What I said was that I’ll ‘quit on TRT,' and not ‘quit on the fight,' to continue my dream to fight."
The latter statement meshes with what he said in Oct. 2013, regarding ending his TRT use for an opportunity to fight for the middleweight title.
"I’ve already said that, if they agree with it, I would (stop doing TRT)," he said. "No problem at all. If they want me to get there in a disadvantage, that’s OK."
Bottom line: the UFC is moving on without Belfort. All of a sudden, he won't be getting the title shot he's been campaigning for very heavily over the past year. The question that remains though is, why not? Does it have anything to do with that Feb. 7 drug test?
Only time will tell.