by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com (Reporting by Damon Martin)
While everyone else is headed down, Anderson Silva is on his way up.
Although the Ultimate Fighting Championship has yet to make its own official announcement, company president Dana White on Tuesday confirmed to Dave Meltzer of Yahoo Sports that there will indeed be a July 19 UFC event that will air on Spike TV.
According to Meltzer, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will headline the event, though there is an added twist. He will not be defending his belt.
While most fighters today are dropping down as many weight categories as they possibly can, the champ is headed up. Silva will make the move to light heavyweight, temporarily, without relinquishing his middleweight belt, to face James Irvin.
Contacted by MMAWeekly.com, Irvin on Tuesday confirmed the bout, saying that he had just received the contract and finalized the deal earlier in the day. Although other possible match-ups had been discussed, including one with Wanderlei Silva, Irvin was excited for the bout with Anderson Silva.
There had been much speculation in recent weeks that Silva would move to the 205-pound division, but no one really expected it to come at this juncture. Most speculation for a possible July 19 card centered on a main event with some combination of Brandon Vera, Wanderlei Silva, or Dan Henderson.
In his comments to Meltzer, White indicated that Silva would still defend his 185-pound divisional title later in the year, but indicated a future bout with former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell could be in the works if all goes well on July 19.
In addition to Silva vs. Irvin, a bout between Hermes Franca and Frankie Edgar, initially planned for Aug. 9 in Minneapolis, is being relocated to the July event at the Palms in Las Vegas.
The bout will be Franca’s first since returning from suspension for a positive test for steroids in California.
The UFC’s July 19 is a counter move to Affliction’s planned mixed martial arts promotional debut, also on July 19, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Affliction “Banned” features a main event of Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Sylvia, carrying a suggested price tag of $39.95 on pay-per-view.