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Reports: Vitor Belfort Out of UFC 122 Fight With Yushin Okami; Marquardt to Replace

Vitor Belfort UFC MMA
("We gotta take it again, guys. Some dumb jackass wandered into the shot and wasn’t fist-posing." Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.com)

When it comes to the UFC’s middleweight division, we expect chaos, bro, every day. Just two days after Vitor Belfort vs. Yushin Okami was announced as a #1 contender’s match for UFC 122, new reports claim that Belfort has been forced to pull out of the match, and will be replaced by fellow top contender Nate Marquardt, who defeated Rousimar Palhares via TKO (stupidity) last week at UFC Fight Night 22. Due to the shoulder injury that benched Belfort for the better part of this year, the former light-heavyweight champ hasn’t competed since his UFC return fight against Rich Franklin at UFC 103.

Adding an odd wrinkle to this story is Belfort’s trainer Shawn Tompkins, who semi-responded to the reports on Facebook late last night, writing, "you will recieve Vitor Belfort news very soon…All I can tell you as his coach is that he is 100% healthy." Belfort might be physically sound, but that doesn’t mean he’s not withdrawing from the event for other reasons. Could the UFC be promoting him to an immediate title shot at UFC 125 in Chael Sonnen‘s place? We’ll update you when we know more…

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Belfort vs. Okami at UFC 122 to Decide Next Middleweight Title Contender

Vitor Belfort Yushin Okami UFC 122

Last week, Vitor Belfort let us all know that instead of expecting a title shot if he defeats Yushin Okami at UFC 122, he expect[s] Jesus, bro, every day. Well, it seems that the Lord has rewarded Belfort’s devotion. The UFC’s Marshall Zelaznik confirmed today that the Belfort/Okami main event in Germany will determine the next challenger to Anderson Silva‘s middleweight belt. "Both Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami are one win away from a shot at the UFC middleweight title and are coming to Germany with a great deal to win and lose,” Zelaznik said.

Now, we all know that the UFC 122 main event has been upgraded to an official title eliminator because Chael Sonnen pissed hot and will be suspended for up to a year. Obviously, that wasn’t mentioned in the announcement. At some point, the UFC is going to have to make some kind of public statement on the fact that their Fight of the Night-winning former #1 contender won’t be around for a while, and won’t be getting that immediate title rematch that Dana White told everyone about. But for now, promoting Belfort vs. Okami is a more pressing issue, I guess.

As for Belfort, he’s just living proof that if you put your faith in God, you’ll experience miracles. I mean, the dude who said Lance Armstrong gave himself cancer by taking steroids failed a freakin’ steroid test the next month? Honestly, who saw that coming?

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Vitor Belfort on Managing Life’s Little Disappointments: ‘I’m Expect Jesus, Bro, Every Day’


(If you’re into easily digestible religious platitudes and being able to express your entire worldview on a bumper sticker, Belfort is pretty much your guy. PicProps:  Urdirt.com)

Look, nobody would blame Vitor Belfort if he’s a little pissed off right now. Dude has been trying to get Anderson Silva in the cage with him since January, but owing to the middleweight champion’s ongoing frailty, fights scheduled for UFC 108, UFC 109 and UFC 112 have all had to be postponed. Now, due to the world’s most unexpected beatdown at the hands of Chael Sonnen and yet another injury to Silva, Belfort will instead accept a dangerous (and, frankly, thankless) fight against Yushin Okami in Germany at UFC 122 in November.

A lesser man – or perhaps a man who isn’t married to a Brazilian Playboy model and therefore can’t already consider his life an earth-shaking fucking success – might think this was a raw deal. He might stew over it, maybe go on Tapout Radio and say some crazy shit about it, but not Vitor Belfort.  As he explained on Thursday during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s “The MMA Hour,” Belfort doesn’t get mad, he gets Jesus.

"You know what I’m expecting?” he said, when asked if he thought a win over Okami would earn him a title fight. “I’m expect Jesus, bro, every day. I’m expecting Jesus to come into my life and choose my path. Whatever out there is good for me."

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Sonnen Says He May Train with Okami and Belfort for Silva Rematch; Wants Shogun or GSP Next if He Wins


(Listen, Chael. If you get into trouble and you forget what to do, I’ve had instructions printed on your shorts and my shirt and hat.)

Number one UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen took part in a Q&A session today in Texas ahead of tomorrow night’s UFC Fight Night 22 and as expected, the outspoken Republican had a lot to say.

Perhaps most interesting of all of the comments made by Sonnen at the UFC Fight Club event were in regards to whom he might be training with for his  rematch with Silva, tentatively scheduled for UFC 125 on January 1, and whom he has in his crosshairs should he win the UFC middleweight strap this time around.

"I’d love it if Yushin [Okami] came out [to help me train for the rematch with Anderson]. I have a room in my house and I call it Yushin’s room and nobody’s allowed to go in it. I finished the place for him, I put a big bed in it and I got him his own television. Nobody gets to go in there but Okami. But, I don’t know [if he'll make it to Oregon for my camp]," Sonnen said. "I just talked to a gentleman from Japan on behalf of Yushin. He talked about coming out, but he said that because he and Vitor [Belfort] are going to fight in Germany, he’s very worried about jet lag from travelling from Tokyo to the States, to Germany. So I don’t know if we’re going to get him or not." 

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UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko — Live Updates and Commentary

Jon Jones UFC Live Versus MMA
(Above: Jon Jones works the pads with Phil Nurse in front of onlookers in Las Vegas. Below: Vladimir Matyushenko does nothing with nobody in front of no one somewhere. Photos courtesy of Sherdog.)
Vladimir Matyushenko UFC Live MMA

Jones and Matyushenko. Rogan and Goldie. Munoz and Okami. Arianny and the other girl. Gomi and Griffin. Big John McCarthy (!), assuming he hasn’t been completely relegated to the dark card. It’s been far too long since the UFC has graced us with their presence — particularly on free TV — and it feels good to be hanging with the old gang again. Live round-by-round results from the Versus broadcast will be piling up after the jump starting at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. Refresh your browser every few minutes for all the latest, and leave us your insightful feedback in the comments section. And please, no unrelated comments about how boring Jake Shields is. At least for one night. Come on, guys, let’s be adults here.

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James Irvin Getting One More Chance, Back at Light-Heavyweight

James Irvin skinny middleweight UFC
(Well, he certainly has his mother‘s cheekbones. Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.)

Adding to the long list of horrible stuff that has happened to him in his career, James Irvin‘s last fight at UFC of Versus: Vera vs. Jones was an utter disaster. The Sandman looked painfully emaciated in his first attempt at middleweight, and crumpled to the mat after taking an eye-punch from Alessio Sakara. It was the fourth time in his last five appearances that Irvin has ended a fight on the mat writhing in pain or otherwise immobilized. (See also: Anderson Silva slicing him up, his blown out ACL/MCL against Thiago Silva, and the DQ victory via illegal knee he endured against Luis Cane.) Truly, the Octagon has become a dangerous place for James Irvin. Unfortunately, quitting doesn’t seem to be an option.

Despite the fact that he hasn’t won a fight in over two years, MMA Weekly is reporting that Irvin will get one last shot to redeem himself at UFC on Versus 2 (August 1st, Salt Lake City). Irvin will be heading back up to 205 — thank God — to face Igor Pokrajac, the Cro Cop disciple who has gone 0-2 in the Octagon, dropping fights to Vladimir Matyushenko and James "Hey, Tuna" Te-Huna. Obviously, it’s a must-win for both guys, though if Irvin can make it through the fight without any serious injuries, you have to consider that a victory in itself.

Related: UFC on Versus 2 will also host a middleweight contest between Yushin Okami and Mark Munoz. Rebounding from his UFC 104 loss to Chael Sonnen, Okami turned in one of the most impressive performances of his career when he beat down Lucio Linhares at "Florian vs. Gomi" in March. Munoz is a perfect 3-0 at middleweight, and most recently scored a TKO over Kendall Grove in UFC 112′s Fight of the Night.

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Exclusive: Sonnen Brings in Okami to ‘Anchor’ his Training Camp for UFC 109 Fight Against Marquardt

Chael Sonnen Yushin Okami Arianny Celeste Duke of Hazzard
(Sonnen and Okami: Bros before foes.)

By CagePotato.com contributor Mike Russell

When Chael Sonnen was asked after beating Yushin Okami at UFC 104 whether or not he was upset that his fight was relegated to the undercard, his reply was:

“We got men and women at war right now – they got real problems – so me complaining about where I come out on the card would be very arrogant. But with that said, there are guys that I’m opening the show for that would never fight after me had Okami not been my dance partner. They call him Yushin “Thunder” Okami, I call him Yushin “Anchor” Okami; he pulls people down, whereas if you get a fight with me – if you get me on the docket, I’m going to pull you up. I’m going to get exposure and attention and people to care about the fight and “Anchor” Okami’s got the opposite effect. So was it annoying? Yes.”

Two months later the Team Quest middleweight apparently had a change of heart, and invited his former opponent to stay with him for a month at his home in Oregon to help kick off the training camp for his UFC 109 showdown with Nate Marquardt on February 6.

“I’m actually on my way to practice right now and Yushin is sitting next to me in the car.”

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MMA Trash-Talk Roundup: Rich Franklin, Jason Miller, Donald Cerrone + More

Dan Henderson Rich Franklin MMA UFC 93
(Please, guys, there are kids watching. Photo courtesy of UFC.com.)

"I believe I won that fight. I’ll stand behind that for the rest of my life. On the feet, it’s clear I dominated the fight. I didn’t just win, I dominated on the feet. I did not get hit flush on the face or the body one time the whole fight. Dan took me down on several occasions, most of which I was able to stand back up. While I was on the ground, he was not capable of mounting any kind of damage…He had to resort to kneeing me on the back of my thigh because he had no other option and didn’t know what else to do…

Couple that with the fact I was head-butted twice and poked in the eye once. I would think that maybe the first one was incidental. I would assume that after you have a couple head-butts and then you poke me in the eye, perhaps as a referee you’d think about taking away a point. I don’t see how a judge should give him that decision."
Rich Franklin, still salty about his split-decision loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 93.

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Houston Alexander Keeps UFC 98 Injury Curse Alive


(Does Houston’s abdomen remind anybody else of Kuato? Photo courtesy of jhiner.)

Bad news for fans who wanted to see Houston Alexander‘s do-or-die, for-real-this-time fight against Andre Gusmao at UFC 98 (May 23rd, Las Vegas). As confirmed on UFC.com, the Assassin has suffered a broken hand and has withdrawn from the match, making him the sixth big-name fighter to be scratched from the event. According to Fightlinker’s records, "Evans vs. Machida" is just one injury away from tying the all-time UFC record for unfortunate pull-outs, which is currently held by UFC 85. To recap the black cloud that has been hanging over UFC 98…

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Herman Out, Sonnen In Against Miller + More UFC Notes

Chael Sonnen Paulo Filho WEC MMA
(Sonnen gives Paulo Filho an intervention, Team Quest-style. Photo courtesy of BaltimoreSun.com.)

Although initial reports claimed that Ed Herman would be stepping in for the injured Yushin Okami against Dan Miller at UFC 98 (May 23rd, Las Vegas), there’s been another change in plans. It seems that Herman has declined the fight — likely because he just competed at UFC 97 and the five-week turnaround would be too short — and Okami’s actual replacement will be Herman’s Team Quest teammate Chael Sonnen.

Sonnen was most recently submitted by Demian Maia in his UFC return fight in February, which dropped his overall Octagon record to 1-3. The WEC/Bodog vet was slated to face Wilson Gouveia at UFC 102 (August 29th; Portland, Oregon) and still hopes to take that fight if his scrap with Dan Miller goes well. Though considering Miller’s skill with submissions (and Sonnen’s tendency to get submitted), Sonnen may be out of a job by this summer.

In other news…

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