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Anderson Silva will headline UFC’s Fourth of July weekend card again

Three other bouts also announced for International Fight Week event

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Middleweight champion Anderson Silva smiles during a news conference and media work out Thursday, July 5, 2012 in advance of UFC 148.

When the UFC announced plans to hold “International Fight Week” every Fourth of July weekend in Las Vegas last year, it promised to always headline the pay-per-view fight card with one of the top mixed martial artists in the world.

Turns out the sport’s consensus best fighter will star at the first two versions. The UFC announced Wednesday that middleweight champion Anderson Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0) would defend his belt against Chris Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) on Saturday, July 6, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The event is slated as UFC 162 and expected to host as many events leading up to the fight as last year’s UFC 148. Silva defeated Chael Sonnen by second-round TKO at that card.

The 37-year old, who’s widely considered the best in UFC history and ranks No. 1 in the company’s pound-for-pound rankings, has only fought once since then — knocking out Stephan Bonnar in the first round of a late-notice light heavyweight bout last year.

He’s long resisted a fight against Weidman, a former college wrestler who has fought professionally for less than four years, but appears to have finally caved. Every other option for Silva has fallen by the wayside, giving Weidman the opportunity fresh off of a shoulder surgery that will have kept him out of the octagon for a year by the time UFC 162 rolls around.

Three other bouts were announced for the card, including two other middleweight matchups. Mark Munoz (12-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) and Tim Boetsch (16-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC), two other fighters who were in the running to face Silva, will clash as well as Strikeforce crossovers Tim Kennedy (15-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Roger Gracie (6-1 MMA, 3-1 SF).

Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante (11-3 MMA, 4-2 SF) also debuts in the octagon against Thiago Silva (14-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC). Both Cavalcante and Silva are coming off of suspensions for failed drug tests.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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