Vitor Belfort has withdrawn from his UFC 122 main event fight against Yushin Okami in Germany. In to replace Belfort will be Nate Marquardt, who just picked up a TKO win over Rousimar Palhares at UFC Fight Night 22.
Marquardt’s placement in the fight was confirmed to MMAWeekly.com by sources close to the bout, who stated the fight has been signed for the new main event at UFC 122.
Belfort was originally reported as having an injury, but his coach, Shawn Tompkins later posted on his facebook page that Belfort was “100% healthy,” and UFC president Dana White tweeted that “Vitor is not injured.”
Neither Tompkins or White said as much, but it appears that Belfort may have been pulled from the fight with Okami to face UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in early 2011.
Chael Sonnen was originally set to face Silva in a rematch of their UFC 117 bout, but Sonnen has been suspended after testing positive for steroids, according to the California State Athletic Commission. Barring a successful appeal, Sonnen is facing a year-long suspension.
Bouncing back strong from his loss to Sonnen in February, Marquardt made short work of Palhares in their fight last Wednesday night in Austin, Texas.
Following a leg lock attempt from Palhares early in the first round, Marquardt hammered the Brazilian with a punch that rattled him, and then proceeded to finish the fight just seconds later, getting the win at 3:28 into the bout.
The win was Marquardt’s ninth in the UFC. The Colorado fighter had stated he hoped to get another fight sooner rather than later following the victory. It looks like he got his wish.
The bout between Marquardt and Okami will headline UFC 122 in Germany, which will air via tape delay in the United States on Spike TV.
Prior to the change, the fight between Okami and Belfort was to determine a new No. 1 contender to the middleweight title. In all likelihood, the fight between Okami and Marquardt would carry the same stipulation.
(UPDATED: Sept. 22 at 9:45 a.m. PT adding Tompkins’ and White’s denials of any injury to Belfort.
UPDATED: Sept. 22 at 8:00 a.m. PT to include further information questioning Belfort’s injury.)