At the UFC 183 post-fight press conference on Saturday night, UFC President Dana White strongly alluded to the fact that Vitor Belfort is ducking an interim UFC Middleweight Championship fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 184 in February.
UFC 184 could end up making history as the first UFC pay-per-view event to feature an all-female main event and co-main event.
As things stand right now, the main event of UFC 184 will feature UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey defending her 135-pound title against undefeated number one contender Cat Zingano. The co-main event is currently scheduled to feature the UFC debut of former female boxing champion Holly Holm, as she challenges the 12th-ranked UFC Women’s Bantamweight contender, Raquel Pennington.
Belfort, however, could change the potential history making top billing for UFC 184, as UFC President Dana White stated at the UFC 183 post-fight press conference that the promotion intends to offer “The Phenom” one more option for the February 28th event.
White was asked about the 185-pound title situation as it pertains to next month’s UFC 184 pay-per-view. He claimed that “Vitor was being Vitor” and when the news surfaced that Weidman was pulling out of the fight due to injury, Belfort immediately started texting him and asking for an interim title fight to go on in Weidman’s absence.
The UFC boss went on to describe the series of events that followed, as he said he contacted Lyoto Machida and that his first words to White were, “send me the bout agreement.”
“It’s typical Vitor,” said White. “Vitor is blowing me up on the phone saying he wants an interim title fight. So I literally picked up the phone and called Lyoto Machida. The first thing Lyoto said is, ‘Send me the bout agreement.’ So I called Vitor back and they said, ‘Yeah, uhh …we’ll wait for Weidman.'”
White continued, pointing out the fact that there is still a possibility that Belfort will fight on the card, which takes place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
“I’m not saying that’s definite,” said White. “It’s Vitor, we’ll see what happens. We’re giving him one more option.”
Burns first explained why Belfort turned down the offer to fight Machida on short notice.
“We don’t think that is fair with Vitor [to] fight with a guy with such [a] different style and with nothing to lose,” said Burns. “He has been training for more than six months to fight an orthodox wrestler. Now he would have less than a month to prepare for a southpaw. I was the first one to say ‘no.’”
While Belfort isn’t interested in an interim title match against Machida, Burns says there are other fighters in the division that he would be comfortable matching Belfort up against.
“I think that a fight against Yoel Romero, Ronaldo Souza, Luke Rockhold or Mark Munoz wouldn’t affect the training so much,” said Burns “But against Machida it would be all different.”
Whether or not Belfort and Burns are on the same page remains to be seen, as shortly after the news of Weidman’s injury broke, “The Phenom” was quick to react on social media, making it clear that he intends to wait for his opportunity to fight the UFC 185-pound title holder for the undisputed championship.
“As you already know, unfortunately my opponent was injured again,” said Belfort in a tweet posted on his official Twitter account on Saturday morning. “The focus is the same — TO FIGHT AGAINST WEIDMAN FOR THE MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE!”
The mystery surrounding the UFC 185-pound title picture, and the void left on the UFC 184 fight card should be resolved in the near future. As soon as more information becomes available, we will be sure to update you right here at MMANews.com.