(“That’s it, we gotta ban skateboards too!” — Dana White tomorrow)
First, the bad news: Chris Weidman has been forced to pull out from his UFC 181-scheduled bout with Vitor Belfort due to injury. As first reported by Ariel Helwani and confirmed by Dana White shortly thereafter, Weidman suffered a hairline fracture in his hand while sparring, which will require between 4-6 weeks to heal. The Belfort fight has been moved to an unknown date in February.
And now, the good: Replacing Weidman vs. Belfort in the main event slot of UFC 181 will be the highly-anticipated welterweight title rematch between champion Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler.
“Bigg Rigg” and “Ruthless” first met at UFC 171 to fight for the welterweight title vacated by Georges St. Pierre. The hard fought, back-and-forth contest saw Hendricks emerge victorious by unanimous decision but also suffer a torn bicep and fractured shin that has kept him out of action since. Lawler, meanwhile, has notched victories over Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown at UFC 173 and UFC on FOX 12, respectively, to earn another shot at Hendricks.
The lightweight title fight between TUF 20 coaches Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez will remain in the co-main event slot of UFC 181 for now, so all things considered, this could’ve been much, much worse. We’ll keep you updated on Weidman’s injury as information is made available, but breathe easy for now, Nation. Breathe easy.