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Vitor Belfort Withdraws From UFC 173 in Wake of TRT Ban, Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida Booked as Replacement Title Fight [UPDATED]

(Video via FOX Sports Live)

In the most predictable fight-withdrawal since Tito’s last neck injury, UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort has pulled out of his UFC 173 title bout against Chris Weidman, following the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s decision to ban TRT exemptions yesterday. I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing your ass off. Alright, then. FOX Sports Live broke the news late last night, running this brief statement from Belfort:

The Nevada State Athletic Commission recently altered its policy and no longer will permit testosterone use exemptions, and will not permit a TRT program. As other jurisdictions may follow suit, I am going to drop my TRT program and compete in MMA without it. Given the time constraints involved between now and my proposed next bout in May, I have determined not to apply for a license to fight in Nevada at this time.”

Well, at least Vitor isn’t pretending he’s hurt. By the way, the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission hasn’t yet decided if it will follow the NSAC’s lead on TRT prohibition, so Belfort might not want to make any hasty decisions about his hormone treatments just yet.

Luckily, the UFC had a backup plan loaded and ready to go. It was also revealed on the FOX Sports Live segment that Chris Weidman will remain on the UFC 173 card (May 24th, Las Vegas), and defend his middleweight title against former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who has gone 2-0 since dropping to 185 pounds last year. Here’s what Weidman had to say about the opponent switch:

Machida is a dangerous fighter and he knows what it takes to become champion. He’s been on my radar since he dropped to 185 so I’m looking forward to defending my title against him at UFC 173 in May.”

Despite the fact that Machida’s foot looked like a balloon following his unanimous decision win against Gegard Mosuasi earlier this month, Machida said he’s “really excited” for the opportunity, and will be “well prepared for this fight.” But honestly, what else is he going to say? Machida already got on the UFC’s shit-list for refusing to step into a title fight in 2012, and he’s not going to do it twice.

So, will Belfort fight in America ever again? And how do you see the Weidman/Machida fight going down?

Update, 11:06 a.m. ET: Belfort claims that he didn’t withdraw from his title fight against Weidman voluntarily — he was forced out by the UFC:

“I never gave up fighting in UFC 173 and never mentioned it. Therefore, all information posted in any mass media advertising that is not true.

What I announced was that I will be resigning “TRT” and not “giving up the fight” to continue my dream of fighting.

The UFC decided to put another opponent in my place because I didn’t have time to fit the new rules of the NSAC. According to the UFC, I will face the winner of Weidman vs Lyotto within the new regulations of all the Athletic Commissions.

I’m sorry that this happened, and I appreciate the strength and understanding of all fans, sponsors, UFC and athletic commissions.”


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