The UFC 147 event in Brazil has been delivered a major blow with the news that Vitor Belfort has had to withdraw from his main event fight with Wanderlei Silva due to a broken hand.
Belfort underwent surgery yesterday after injuring his hand in training, but has no chance of being ready for the June 23rd event so the UFC are now left desparately seeking a new opponent.
It’s the last thing the promotion needed after already having to restructure the entire event after it’s original blockbuster main event between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen had to be moved to UFC 148 due to issues securing a stadium venue in Rio due to a United Nations conference being held there at the same time.
That resulted in the show being downgraded to a 13,000 seater arena in Belo Horizonte, with Belfort Vs Silva becoming the new headliner.
While note the show the Brazilian fans had been hoping for, this was still a major main event given that Belfort and Silva have been currently going head-to-head as coaches in a special Brazilian version of The Ultimate Fighter which has been drawing over 10 million viewers on the Globo channel.
Belfort’s removal weakens the card significantly however and leaves it with very little star power given that the majority of the show will be filled up with bouts between the newly unearthed talent discovered on the TUF: Brazil show.
UFC president Dana White has vowed to keep Wanderlei Silva on the card and he’ll now have to produce a big name opponent in order to appease not only the Brazilian fans, but also those in North America who will be expected to buy the card on pay-per-view.
So who could they get to replace Belfort?
It’s a tough one as a number of potential opponents for Silva are already scheduled to fight elsewhere. If they want to choose someone who’s currently without a fight then I’d suggest Alan Belcher who’s not neccessarily the biggest name in the division, but does have some heat coming off a major win over another Brazilian Rousimar Palhares recently and would be a very good stylistic match-up for ‘The Axe-Murderer’.
The other option would be to pull Michael Bisping from his fight with Tim Boetsch at UFC 149 in order to undergo a rematch with Silva, a fight both men have entertained the idea of in the past.
The UFC 149 fight card is pretty strong so it would withstand this fight being taken from it and it’s probably about as notable an opponent as the promotion could bring forth at this stage in the game.