It’s official: Vitor Belfort will not face Matt Lindland at Affliction: Day of Reckoning on October 11. The hand he broke on Terry Martin’s face won’t be healed in time, though Affliction VP Tom Atencio sounds just a little suspicious of the whole thing in his remarks to MMA Weekly:
“Vitor is out, I spoke with him I think yesterday and he told me,” said Atencio. “Actually, it was on Tuesday we had a conversation for about an hour or so, and yeah, I guess he broke his hand in two places is what he told me and he had been having 2, 3 and 4 opinions on it. He finally got the opinion that he wanted I guess and they told him to step out for a while.”
This might be just an accident of poor phrasing, but Atencio seems to be suggesting that Belfort went looking for a doctor who would tell him not to fight. That hardly sounds like “The Phenom,” who told a slightly different tale to Tatame:
“Man, I’m doing physiotherapy now and won’t be able to fight at October 11th, I wanna fight with 100%, so I’ll be at the next show to fight for the title”
Belfort also said that he expects to face the winner of Matt Lindland vs. TBA for the currently non-existent middleweight title in Affliction’s third event. Naturally, Atencio cast doubt on that too, saying that the proposed Belfort-Lindland bout would not have been for a title because “it didn’t make too much sense.” He said they may eventually decide to make it a title bout, but for now the task at hand is finding an opponent for Lindland, and guess whose name keeps coming up? Jake freakin’ Shields.
“Right now I have a really good offer on the table to fight a top 185-pounder,” Shields said. “I’m just waiting, hoping Elite (XC) will give me that opportunity to go out there and represent Elite and test myself.”
Atencio would only say that he didn’t have a deal signed with Shields and couldn’t confirm anything, which is a lot like admitting that he’s trying to close the deal and just hasn’t done it yet. Odds are the real negotiations that have to happen are not so much between Affliction and Shields, but rather Affliction and Elite XC.
This situation could not be more timely. Remember Elite XC: Unfinished Business? Remember how many times we had to hear how great Shields was and how he wanted to face the best welterweights from other organizations? Well, here’s a chance to face a former top ten middleweight. Shields seems up for it, so if nothing else we should find out if Elite XC really wants these types of cross-promotional opportunities, or if they just want to talk about them.