Anderson Silva will replace Jon Jones at UFC 200 and face light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, the UFC announced Thursday night.
It is a three-round non-title light heavyweight fight.
“I’ve gone through a lot of phases in my UFC career, and no one’s been able to beat everything that I’ve done,” Silva said late Thursday night at the UFC Fight Night post-fight news conference. “So I really feel like I’m a blessed guy. I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to do what I’ve done. I’m just very happy to be able to come in and face a guy like Daniel Cormier.”
Jones was removed the card late Wednesday night after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency notified him of a potential doping violation. USADA administers UFC’s anti-drug program.
UFC president Dana White said veteran Dan Henderson and Gegard Mousasi also had volunteered to fight Cormier. White said they have other plans for Henderson and that moving Mousasi off his scheduled fight against Thiago Santos on Saturday wouldn't be fair to Santos. White said Silva was able to pass all of the necessary medical tests in time to be cleared by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
“Anderson is giving Daniel the opportunity to fight, to make money and to perform on UFC 200,” White said. “So if Anderson wants three rounds, if Anderson wants two rounds, he’ll get it.”
Silva, the former middleweight champion, had been scheduled to fight Uriah Hall at UFC 198 on May 14 in his home town of Curitiba, Brazil, but withdrew the week of the fight to have his gall bladder removed.
White said at Thursday afternoon's news conference for next month’s Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz fight that he was working on getting a new opponent for Cormier.
After the news broke about Jones on Wednesday night, Cormier had said he was willing to fight at UFC 200 still if the fight “makes sense.”
Silva (33-7, 1 no contest), considered by many as the greatest mixed martial arts fighter in history, is coming off a loss to Michael Bisping last February. It was Silva’s first fight since being suspended for testing positive for banned substances both before and after his fight with Nick Diaz in January 2015.
Miesha Tate will defend her bantamweight title against Amanda Nunes in the main event. This is the fourth time the main event has changed.
Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz originally were scheduled to headline the fight before McGregor was pulled from the card for refusing to come to Las Vegas to do promotion for the event. Then it became Cormier vs. Jones 2, followed by Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt moving up to the main event after Jones was pulled. Lesnar-Hunt returns to being the co-main event.
Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo will fight for the interim featherweight title on the main card as well.