MANILA, Philippines – Daniel Cormier remains on the UFC 200 pay-per-view card as former middleweight champion Anderson Silva has stepped in to face the reigning light heavyweight kingpin in a 3-round non-title bout.
UFC president Dana White publicly announced the blockbuster development on Thursday, July 7 (Friday Manila time) through his social media account.
Cormier was originally penciled to square off with Jon Jones in a rematch, but the fight was cancelled yesterday when the latter was informed of a potential anti-doping violation stemming from an out-of-competition drug test on June 16.
Silva (33-7, 1 NC) has fought twice at 205 pounds, defeating Forrest Griffin in August 2009 and Stephan Bonnar in October 2012.
The 41-year-old Brazilian was last seen in action when he dropped a highly-debated unanimous decision to current middleweight titleholder Michael Bisping this past February.
Silva was supposed to lock horns with Uriah Hall at UFC 198 last May, but an emergency gall bladder surgery forced him to withdraw from the marquee match-up.
The last time that Silva had his hand raised was when he danced with Bonnar on short notice in October 2012 to save the UFC 153 card that had been ravaged by injuries.
According to White, Silva does require final medical clearance by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, but the UFC expects “The Spider” to be cleared.
On the other hand, Cormier (17-1) got his hands on the gold-plated strap when he submitted Anthony Johnson for the vacant title in May 2015 as Jones was stripped of the UFC light heavyweight belt and was placed on indefinite suspension due to a hit-and-run incident in April of the same year.
The 37-year-old American successfully defended the light heavyweight belt with a split decision win over Alexander Gustafsson in October 2015.
UFC 200, which takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, July 9 (Sunday, July 10 in Manila), is now headlined by a women’s bantamweight championship clash between Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes.
Meanwhile, a heavyweight encounter between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt will serve as the co-main event. – Rappler.com