UFC boss not quite ready to promise Vitor Belfort next title shot


vitor-belfort-31.jpgGOIANIA, Brazil – Following his first-round TKO of Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 32, Vitor Belfort‘s next move is simple – unless it’s not.

As UFC President Dana White put it at Saturday’s post-fight press conference, the future holds “big things for Vitor Belfort” after this third straight TKO finish. But will those big things include a title shot against the winner of next month’s UFC 168 rematch between UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and former champ Anderson Silva?

“Vitor Belfort’s next,” White said at first. “Or – I don’t know.”

The problem, White said, is the volatility involved in the Weidman vs. Silva rematch, plus the addition of former light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida into the middleweight mix.

“You never know what happens here,” White said. “That Weidman-Silva fight happens, somebody gets hurt and they’re sidelined for. You just never know what’s going to happen. … Anything could happen, but there’s nothing but big fights for Vitor. Imagine if we do Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort again. You could do that in a soccer stadium here.”

Of course, if Belfort and Silva did meet on Brazilian soil, it would raise the same old questions about whether Belfort is avoiding the athletic commissions in the U.S., which might be less inclined to give a former steroid user a therapeutic-use exemption for testosterone-replacement therapy. White, however, insisted that it wouldn’t be an issue.

“Vitor can fight in the United States now,” White said. “There’s no reason why he couldn’t fight in Las Vegas, no matter what [Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director] Keith Kizer says. He should be allowed to fight in Las Vegas. It’s ridiculous. As far as the rest of the country goes, Vitor can fight anywhere in the U.S. But he’s in Brazil, and you understand why he’s in Brazil.”

For his part, Belfort said he was looking forward to facing the winner of the Weidman-Silva rematch, and anticipated no problems getting licensed to fight in the U.S. – testosterone or no.

“It’s easy,” Belfort said. “Chael Sonnen‘s fighting in Las Vegas. We do everything by the book. I’m just going to take my blood [for testing] right now, so everything’s good. We can get licensed. That’s no problem.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 32, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

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