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Chris Weidman out of UFC 181 title fight against Vitor Belfort

UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, from Baldwin, successfully

UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, from Baldwin, successfully defended his title against Lyoto Machida by winning a unanimous decision at UFC 175 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on July 5, 2014. Credit: Mario Gonzalez

A broken left hand has forced middleweight champion Chris Weidman to pull out of his title defense at UFC 181 against Vitor Belfort, the UFC announced Monday night.

The Dec. 6 fight likely will be rescheduled for February.

Bad break? Not the way trainer Ray Longo looks at it.

"I'm looking at it different," Longo said. "I'm looking at it like I want this guy 100 percent healthy. You give this guy two healthy hands, it's a big difference."

Weidman, from Baldwin, first injured his left hand about three weeks before his last title defense in July against Lyoto Machida. Weidman (12-0, 8-0 UFC) said after the fight that doctors had told him he sprained ligaments in the hand.

Longo said Weidman saw doctors in California on Monday and that his left hand was in a cast. Longo said they had not done any pad work or sparring yet for the Dec. 6 fight against Belfort.

Weidman had spent some time in South Carolina helping Steven "Wonderboy" Thompson prepare for his bout on Saturday against Patrick Cote at UFC 178. (Thompson trained with Weidman for his past three fights, mimicking Anderson Silva and Machida.)

Replacing Weidman-Belfort as the UFC 181 main event will be Johny Hendricks' first welterweight title defense. He'll fight Robbie Lawler in a rematch of the bout to decide the champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the title. Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will defend his title as scheduled against Gilbert Melendez in the co-main event at UFC 181.

Belfort, 37, last fought in November 2013 and is on a three-fight win streak, all via head kick knockout in the first or second rounds.

New York Sports