by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
Vitor Belfort is the latest fighter displaced by Affliction to migrate to the UFC.
UFC president Dana White announced he had signed the former UFC champion Friday on a conference call with reporters.
“I like to bring the fans the best fights I can possibly bring them and the fights that the fans want to see,” said White. “When we announced that Rich Franklin was fighting Dan Henderson, fans were pissed. There was some backlash. People didn’t like it.
“So, we went out and we just signed Vitor Belfort. Vitor Belfort is now fighting Rich Franklin in Dallas in September. That’s the new main event.”
Although White originally announced, and the promotion later issued a statement, declaring that the bout would be contested at 205 pounds, Franklin on Friday evening posted on his Twitter account that the bout would instead be contested at a catchweight.
“Just found out I will be fighting Vitor at a catchweight of 195 (pounds) as per his request,” wrote Franklin.
The change in weight to 195 pounds works well for both fighters. Franklin recently fought Wanderlei Silva at that weight and felt very comfortable doing so, and Belfort’s most recent fights have been in the middleweight division at 185 pounds.
The announcement squashed rumors Belfort had booked a fight in Brazil in September.
Belfort was one of two fighters tapped to replace Josh Barnett at Affliction “Trilogy” before the show was cancelled last Friday. Affliction folded their fight promotion operations shortly after.
The announcement of Belfort signing on with the UFC was a bit of a surprise, which added to the expected announcement that Tito Ortiz had also re-signed with the promotion.
(Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 9:25 p.m. PT to include Franklin’s comments about the change from 205 pounds to a catchweight of 195 pounds.)