SINGAPORE – The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced Friday, February 28, that reigning UFC middleweight champion Chris “All-American” Weidman (11-0) will defend his title against the streaking Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (21-4).
The two fighters will face each other at the main event at UFC 173 which is scheduled for May 24 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After twice defeating former champion Anderson Silva, who had long been considered pound for pound the best mixed martial artist in the world, Weidman was expected to make the first defense of his middleweight title against Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort.
Belfort, who is notoriously undergoing Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) for therapeutic use, had previously gained exemptions from doping tests regarding the matter. However, just recently, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) placed a ban on granting these exemptions extending the period of time for Belfort to be licensed to compete professionally in the state.
As such, Belfort agreed to withdraw from the fight, providing Lyoto Machida the opportunity to step in as a replacement and allowing the UFC’s promotional efforts to go according to schedule.
“With today’s ruling by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who is undefeated since dropping to 185 pounds, will fight champion Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 173 in May,” said UFC President Dana White.
Machida is coming off two impressive victories in his new weight division – an impressive head-kick knockout of top contender Mark Muñoz and a dominant unanimous decision win against Gregard Mousasi.
The two victories came after a disappointing loss to Phil Davis back at UFC 163.
Nevertheless, Machida is back in the title mix, aiming to become just the third fighter in UFC history to capture a championship in two different weight classes.
“Machida wants nothing more than to avenge the losses of his friend and training partner (Silva),” added White.
Both Machida and Silva train partly out of Brazil and Miami, Florida under MMA veterans Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and manager Ed Soares.
Chris Weidman was last seen in a rematch against Anderson Silva at UFC 168, infamously checking one of Silva’s leg kicks which resulted in a freak injury that saw Silva’s leg snap in two places.
Weidman will have his hands full against Machida, who is known for his use of a highly effective modified version of Shotokan-Karate, leading him to 21 victories against just 4 defeats in his MMA career. – Rappler.com
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