A rematch between middleweight champion Chris Weidman and former titleholder Anderson Silva headlines this weekend’s UFC 168 fight card in Las Vegas, and a No. 1 contender waits to face the winner.
During Thursday’s UFC 168 pre-fight press conference at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, UFC president Dana White said Vitor Belfort is next in line.
“Yeah, I think Vitor has earned the right to face whoever the winner is,” said White. “Vitor has been out there fighting, taking on all comers. Yeah, he’s next in line; no doubt about it.”
Belfort (24-10) has had a stellar 2013 and is certainly a candidate for Fighter of the Year. In January, he knocked out Michael Bisping in the second round with a head kick and follow-up punches. In May, he logged another highlight reel knockout over former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold. On Nov. 9, Belfort became the first fighter to knock out former two-division Pride champion Dan Henderson.
The Weidman vs. Silva rematch is expected to be the organization’s biggest pay-per-view event of the year, and a trilogy could be even bigger. That possibility is the one thing that could interfere with Belfort receiving the next shot at the middleweight crown.
“Anything’s possible. I would never say no, but if they go in and it’s a decisive win like the last fight was, Vitor is next,” said White following the press conference.
If Silva wins on Saturday, a bout with Belfort will be a rematch. The two met at UFC 126 in February 2011. Silva knocked Belfort out in the opening round after landing a front kick to his face. It was the first time Belfort had been rendered unconscious in his 17-year fighting career.
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