Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, May 23, 2013 | 5:30 p.m.
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Vitor Belfort’s quest to secure his third title fight in as many years is just about complete.
Dana White officially anointed Belfort as the top contender at middleweight during an hourlong meeting with reporters at Thursday’s UFC 160 media day. The UFC president came away too impressed with Belfort’s first-round finish of Luke Rockhold last Saturday, his second head-kick knockout of the year, not to award the 36-year-old veteran the distinction.
“It makes sense,” White said. “Vitor looked great. He looked awesome.”
Belfort will tentatively fight the winner of the UFC 162 main event between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman, though it’s likely Silva would receive an immediate rematch if he lost.
White expects several people to take issue with the announcement considering the amount of criticism Belfort has garnered because of his therapeutic-use exemption for testosterone. But he had an impassioned message to get across for anyone questioning Belfort.
“It’s all a bunch of conspiracy (expletive) crock of (expletive) whether it’s reporters or fans or whatever,” White said. “Vitor has done everything we’ve asked.”
Belfort’s testosterone levels were tested frequently throughout his training camp leading up to UFC on FX 8, according to White. He was also tested at the event.
“Vitor Belfort follows all of the rules, did all the things he was supposed to do,” White said. “I’m not a fan of TRT. I don’t like it, but it’s legal right now.”
White focuses more on Belfort’s fighting resume. “The Phenom” has gone 4-0 at middleweight since a first-round knockout loss to Silva in February 2011. His only other defeat in that span came to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones last year.
Read below for a few more nuggets of news to come out of White’s press appearance.
UFC agrees to terms with Silva
Belfort won’t have to worry about contract negotiations delaying his title shot if Silva lives up to the odds and defeats Weidman.
White said Silva recently signed a much-discussed 10-fight contract with the UFC. The deal almost certainly guarantees the 37-year old Silva won’t fight anywhere outside of the octagon as his career winds down.
The question is how many of the 10 fights will Silva, who has fought 16 times in a seven-year UFC career, actually fulfill. White’s not making any predictions, but wouldn’t put it past “The Spider” fighting well into his 40s.
“We wanted to sign him to a six- or eight-fight deal, and he said, ‘let’s do a 10-fight deal,’” White said.
“We have that crazy relationship with Anderson, but he wants to be here. And there’s no reason for him not to want to be here. He’s doing OK.”
Roy Nelson’s upcoming fight could be his last in the UFC
Not all deals with fighters play out that painlessly for White.
Look no further than talks with Las Vegas-based heavyweight Roy Nelson for one going oppositely. White said the UFC recently offered Nelson a new contract that he turned down.
“He was going to go in a different direction,” White said. “He’s so (expletive) smart. He’s smarter than everyone else, so let him figure it out.”
The troubles with Nelson explain why the UFC threw together a bout with him facing Stipe Miocic at UFC 161 three weeks from now in Winnipeg, Canada. The card needed another pay-per-view fight after Renan Barao pulled out of the scheduled main event against Eddie Wineland with a foot injury.
Nelson was an easy choice to fill the void as he’s promised one more bout on his current contract, which is winding down.
“He’s not going to give us any extensions,” White said.
Announcement on Fox Sports 1 main event coming next week
Let the speculation begin.
The UFC announced a heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne would be part of the inaugural Fox Sports 1 card on Aug. 17 in Boston earlier this week, but promised an even more significant headliner.
White now says he will unveil the main event sometime next week.
“I wanted to have it done this week,” White said. “I couldn’t get it done.”
But White did come up with four separate options, none of which he revealed. White hinted that the results of UFC 160 on Saturday could provide him with a couple more scenarios.
There are two marquee fighters worth counting out for the event — welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. White expects St. Pierre to defend his title on pay-per-view against Johny Hendricks sometime in the fall.
Jones could have been a possibility, according to White, but the broken toe he suffered at UFC 159 made a quick turnaround impossible.
“There’s not a lot of blood that flows to that ligament in your toe,” White said. “This thing could be six weeks, it could be six months.”