(Who doesn’t love a sweaty staring contest?)
When it was initially announced that Vitor Belfort was getting the next crack at UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva, everyone from Ed Soares to Belfort himself acknowledged that this was at least partially bullshit. The good news is that, with Anderson Silva still sidelined due to a lingering injury, Belfort looks like he’ll get his chance to prove he deserves the shot in a top contender bout with Nate Marquardt. Think of it as a rare instance of an injury pullout by a UFC champ resulting in a fight that probably makes more sense than the original title contest. When you think about how often this type of thing has been happening to the UFC of late, it only makes sense that sooner or later it would have to turn out to be a blessing in disguise. That’s just the law of averages at work.
Meanwhile, let’s take a step back and look at the current state of the UFC championship belts:
155 lbs: B.J. Penn puts the lightweight title up for grabs next weekend against Diego Sanchez. If Penn retains the title, don’t look for him to turn around and defend it again any time in the next six months.
185 lbs: Anderson Silva is still hurting and his return is uncertain. The good news is that, by the time he can come back, a #1 contender will be clearly established.
205 lbs: Lyoto Machida and "Shogun" Rua will go at it one more time in May. Unless something bad happens to one of them, which seems all too likely given the UFC’s current streak of bad luck.
265 lbs: Brock Lesnar is a very, very sick man. Don’t believe this ‘back in six months’ stuff just yet. The big man is going to need some time, and we shouldn’t expect to see him before summer.
Basically, what we’re probably looking at in 2010 is two title fights in the first five months. That’s not great news when it comes to scraping together pay-per-view headliners. Better start working on those grudges, boys.