Just minutes after controversial middleweight Vitor Belfort (pictured) was granted his fight license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission during Wednesday’s hearing, the UFC announced Belfort will challenge champion Chris Weidman for his crown at UFC 181.
The December 6 event takes place inside Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
It was high drama inside the media-packed room today. Belfort took full responsibility for registering high levels of testosterone in February’s random drug test administered by the NSAC.
It was the second time in eight years Belfort failed a drug test in the state of Nevada for high testosterone.
Belfort explained that he has now adjusted to life without testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which was banned by the committee shortly after he flunked his pop quiz.
The 37-year-old claimed he wants to prove to everyone that he is a clean fighter and will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
“Whoever wants to get something has to follow the rules. I stick with the truth and I respect your authority,” Belfort stated. “UFC is my authority and you guys are my authority. I want to respect the rules of the sport. Whatever you ask will be done.”
The commission voted unanimously to grant Belfort a license, based on three conditions: He can’t fight until December because that would cover the unofficial nine-month suspension he was issued for failing his February screening, he can’t compete outside of Las Vegas for his next bout and he must fully comply with random drug testing throughout his training camp at his own expense.
The NSAC wasn’t able to officially suspend Belfort because he wasn’t licensed at the time of February’s random test.
Belfort quickly agreed, and the long-awaited matchup against Weidman will now come to fruition.
A TRT-powered Belfort was originally slated to challenge Weidman for this crown at UFC 173, but “The Phenom” was pulled from the bout after the NSAC banished TRT.
Belfort was forced to sit the sidelines while he, the NSAC and UFC figured things out. Weidman went on to successfully defend his title against Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 in the meantime.
Belfort hasn’t been seen since knocking out Dan Henderson with a highlight reel head kick in November.
Here is the UFC 181’s current lineup:
Gilbert Melendez vs. Anthony Pettis (UFC lightweight champion)
Vitor Belfort vs. Chris Weidman (UFC middleweight champion)