Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort booked for UFC 181
Vitor Belfort was granted a conditional license to fight in Nevada at the state athletic commission's meeting on Wednesday.
Moments later, UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman had his next fight made official.
Weidman, from Baldwin, will defend his title against Belfort at UFC 181 in Las Vegas on Dec. 6. The fight will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
After Weidman defeated Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 on Fourth of July weekend, UFC president Dana White said he'd like to see the champion fight Belfort next.
Belfort, 37, earned the title shot by winning three fights, all by headkick knockout, in 2013. But Belfort, the No. 2 ranked middleweight and No. 12 pound-for-pound fighter, has faced criticism over the past two years for his use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). The Nevada Athletic Commission voted unanimously last February to stop granting therapeutic use exemptions and banning TRT.
Weidman (12-0) and Belfort (24-10) were originally scheduled to fight each other at UFC 173 in May, but Belfort was removed from the fight card after the NAC's decision was announced. Belfort had been subject to a random drug test earlier that February when he was in Las Vegas for the World MMA Awards. In June, Belfort released documents that showed a spike in testosterone at the time of that drug test and a subsequent drop in hormone levels in additional testing later.
Machida replaced Belfort and the fight was moved to UFC 175 when Weidman underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees.
As part of Belfort's conditional license, he is not allowed to fight anywhere else but Nevada and is subject to random testing for any drug at any time by any commissioner.
"If Vitor gets licensed, from now until the fight with Weidman, they're going to Olympic-style test him like crazy," UFC president Dana White said to UFC.com on Wednesday before the annoucement. "If he's on anything, if he does anything, he'll get caught. When he fights Chris Weidman, he'll be 100-percent clean."
For Weidman, 30 years old and ranked No. 5 on the pound-for-pound list, this will be his third straight title defense against a Brazilian fighter. He won the title in July 2013 by knocking out Anderson Silva in the second round. He beat Silva in the rematch in December 2013 via second-round TKO (injury), then won a unanimous decision against Machida earlier this month.
"I can't be tired of fighting Brazilians because I think there's a bunch more waiting for me in the pits," Weidman said hours before fighting Machida. "I have a good attitude about it."