Vitor Belfort, the top contender in the UFC’s middleweight division, suffered a shoulder injury in training and has withdrawn from his title shot against Anderson “The Spider” Silva in UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. It’s the second time these two fighters were scheduled to meet each other with the first meeting cancelled by an elbow injury from which Silva was slow to heal.
With the UFC looking to expand globally in 2010, the fight card in Abu Dhabi is top priority for the company. UFC president Dana White has confirmed that Silva will fight a new middleweight opponent for the international audience. However the options for a high quality fight are somewhat limited. Anderson Silva has had an easy time with the rest of the division for several years now. He’s beaten Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson, and many others over the years. He’s also moved up in weight class and quickly knocked out James “Sandman” Irvin as well as had a convincing win over ex-light heavyweight champion and fan favorite Forrest Griffin.
Speculation is that Chael Sonnen, who recently defeated Nate Marquardt in UFC 109, will step up and fight on limited notice. Sonnen’s amazing conditioning should allow him a quick turn around however the Las Vegas fight commission has held him back from training until early March. That leaves Sonnen only one month to prepare for the biggest fight of his life against an opponent who many consider the best pound for pound UFC fighter. Sonnen, a politician by day, doesn’t lack in confidence however.
Other potential matchups for Anderson Silva in Abu Dhabi lack much fan interest currently. Demian Maia would be the next most interesting opponent. Maia also fought on the same card as Sonnen, so his training time is also limited. Maia, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, purposefully refused to use his submission talents in his recent fight against Dan Miller. His efforts to showcase his striking ability didn’t impress much however in a unanimous decision victory.
Whoever steps up to fight Anderson Silva is in for a tough fight. But anyone who steps into a cage and fights for a living would welcome a shot at the championship!