Lyoto Machida (pictured) is 2-0 at middleweight. Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Lyoto Machida replaces Vitor Belfort, fights Weidman at UFC 173

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After it was revealed that TRT has been banned by Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC urged other commissions to do the same, a man that comes hand-in-hand with TUE talk, Vitor Belfort, has pulled out of his title fight against Chris Weidman at UFC 173. Taking his place will be former UFC light heavyweight champion, and fellow Brazilian, Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida in an equally intriguing fight.

Belfort earned a shot at the title with three straight head kick knockouts over established current (and former) middleweights in Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and, most recently, Dan Henderson. Each fight was contested in Belfort’s native Brazil, and many speculate that the reason he decided to fight there was to receive a TUE.

The reason for Belfort’s criticism regarding TRT is that he failed a drug test earlier in his career after his fight with Dan Henderson at Pride 32. The drug in question was 4-hydroxytestosterone, an anabolic steroid, which has now led to the Brazilian requiring TRT. As his need for TRT is, essentially, his own doing, Nevada and many other American commissions were unlikely to give Belfort an exemption and he would be forced to fight without the therapy.

However, late Thursday night it was revealed that Belfort has taken the decision to pull out of his upcoming fight with Weidman due to the potential effects of fighting without the treatment. Though he claimed previously that he would be able to fight without using TRT, UFC officials confirmed Belfort’s decision and a replacement has been named.

Belfort stated,

“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.”

That replacement will be former UFC light heavyweight title holder and the man ranked #3 at middleweight, Lyoto Machida. After lacklustre decisions against Dan Henderson and, in a losing effort, Phil Davis, Machida made the decision to move down to middleweight in an attempt to climb back up the ladder. He did just that with impressive wins over Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz, and will now get his shot at a second UFC title against unbeaten Chris Weidman.

Weidman defeated Anderson Silva in a 17 fight streak-ending win at UFC 162, then went on to defeat the same man again at UFC 168. Both were second round finishes, both under unusual circumstances, and many fans still question the outcomes. However the fact remains that Chris Weidman is a dangerous fighter, an established wrestler and undefeated as a professional with a 6-0 record in the UFC, and he will be a tough challenge for Lyoto Machida to get past.

UFC 173 is to be held on 24 May at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

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Tags: Chris Weidman Lyoto Machida Nevada State Ath TRT UFC 173 Vitor Belfort

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