Vitor Belfort Named As Next UFC Title ChallengerOne day after he was removed from the main event of UFC 122, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort has been named the number one contender for Anderson “The Spider” Silva’s middleweight title. UFC President Dana White announced the change earlier today.

Silva had been set to defend his title against Chael Sonnen in a rematch from their August bout, but Sonnen is now facing a one-year suspension following a positive test for steroids. While he plans to appeal, Sonnen’s status and eligibility will not be known until at least December.

Belfort (19-8-0) was once pegged as the future of the UFC’s heavyweight division back in 1997, but it would be seven years before he would capture a title in the promotion. Through injuries and family tragedies, Belfort worked his way towards a UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout with Randy “The Natural” Couture at UFC 46, but lost the title in his first defence at UFC 49. Over six years since he lost the title, Belfort is finally one win away from once again holding UFC title gold. He was first scheduled to challenge Silva earlier this year, but injuries once against forced him to the sidelines. Having won five straight fights, “The Phenom” will get his shot at Silva in early 2011.

Silva (27-4-0) is widely regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in mixed martial arts, with many pundits placing him at number one. The Muay Thai specialist has never lost inside the Octagon, though he came perilously close in the UFC 117 bout with Sonnen. Rallying from an insurmountable deficit on the scorecards, Silva submitted Sonnen in the fifth and final round and had expected to face the Oregon native in a rematch next year. However, due to Sonnen’s potential suspension, Silva will now face an opponent with a completely different style. Silva has won an incredible 13 straight fights, but Belfort is one of the fastest strikers in the division and could dethrone “The Spider.”

The bout between Belfort and Silva is currently targeted for January or February 2011, with Super Bowl weekend reportedly serving as the most likely date. That event is expected to be dubbed UFC 126.



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