Vitor Belfort Undergoes Hand Surgery, Withdraws from UFC 147 Rematch with Wanderlei Silva


UFC 147 headliner Vitor Belfort has suffered a broken hand and will not compete at the June 23 event.

Saturday night in Las Vegas at the UFC 146 post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White announced that Belfort had undergone hand surgery earlier in the day. Belfort was slated to lock horns with rival Wanderlei Silva at Felipe Drumond Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. White confirmed that Silva will still compete on the card and that the promotion is currently seeking a replacement opponent for “The Axe Murderer.”

“I can’t sleep, thinking about what happened,” Belfort later tweeted, attaching a picture of his injured hand. “I’m very sad... but I know I’ll come back strong.”

Belfort and Silva served as opposing coaches on the recent “Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” reality show, but they first met in the cage back in 1998. “The Phenom” blitzed Silva with a barrage of punches in just 44 seconds, sending Silva reeling across the cage and eventually to the canvas.

Following that defeat, Silva would go on to rule Pride Fighting Championships’ light heavyweight ranks in Japan, earning notable wins over Guy Mezger, Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson (twice) and Kazushi Sakuraba (thrice), among others. More recently, 35-year-old Silva has racked up a 3-4 Octagon record, knocking out former Strikeforce champion Cung Le in his last appearance at UFC 139.

Belfort would briefly capture the UFC’s light heavyweight title in 2004 before handing the belt back to Randy Couture later that year. Since dropping to 185 pounds, Belfort has looked sharp, finishing Terry Martin, Matt Lindland and Rich Franklin before stumbling in his bid to win Anderson Silva’s UFC middleweight title last year. The 35-year-old rebounded from the defeat by posting back-to-back wins, however, knocking out Yoshihiro Akiyama and submitting Anthony Johnson.

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