A knee injury has forced UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman to withdraw from his title defense against Lyoto Machida at UFC 173 in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend.
The UFC announced the news Monday evening, calling it "minor surgery" for an undisclosed knee injury. Weidman vs. Machida has been rescheduled for UFC 175 on July 5 in Las Vegas as part of International Fight Week.
Trainer Ray Longo said Weidman will have surgery next week. He said Weidman has been dealing with a meniscus issue and it "popped out" twice in the past two weeks.
"I have no reservations about July 5," Longo said. "We're just looking at this like we're just pushing the fight back, that's all."
UFC president Dana White also said he is confident that Weidman will be ready for July 5. White also said that UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta had suggested to Weidman several months ago to get the surgery to repair the meniscus in each knee.
"It's brutal," White said about losing Weidman for the Memorial Day weekend card. "He's a big star for us. Lorenzo told him to do this, just get this thing out of the way.”
There are two menisci in the knee -- the lateral and the medial -- and these pieces of cartilage help protect the knee joint from the stresses of physical activity. It is unclear which part of Weidman's knee cartilage is affected.
Weidman, from Baldwin, has had knee problems in the past. He went to Germany last year, per the advice of White, to undergo regenokine, a non-surgical procedure designed to treat arthritis and other ailments. Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez and Fred Couples are among the well-known athletes who have reportedly had this treatment as well.
Weidman (11-0, 7-0 UFC) was originally scheduled to fight Vitor Belfort, but Belfort was replaced with Machida after the Nevada State Athletic Commission unanimously decided to ban exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy. Belfort had been using TRT for his previous three fights. White said there was no consideration given to keeping Machida on the 173 card and seeing if Belfort can get licensed by Nevada in time for July 5.
"That's his fight, not ours," White said of Belfort seeking a license. "Machida's got the title shot. No way Machida would give that up."
Weidman won the middleweight title last July in UFC 162 when he knocked out Anderson Silva in the second round. It was the first loss in more than seven years for Silva and his first in the UFC. Weidman successfully defended his title against Silva last December at UFC 168 by technical knockout. Silva broke his left leg when a kick attempt was defended by Weidman in the second round.
White said he, Fertitta and matchmaker Joe Silva are working on main event replacements for UFC 173. He said he expects to have a new main event "in a couple of days."
One fighter not in his plans is women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
“Ronda’s not working," White said. "She’s out doing her movie. She would, if I called her. I’m not gonna do that to her.”
Weidman's Serra-Longo teammate Al Iaquinta will be on the UFC 173 card against Mitch Clarke.
Heavyweights Junior Dos Santos and Stipe Miocic are scheduled as the co-main event for UFC 173. The UFC will look for a new main event for their Memorial Day weekend card.
Weidman is the fourth of nine UFC champion currently out for surgical reasons. Heavyweight Cain Velasquez, welterweight Johny Hendricks and lightweight Anthony Pettis are the other three.