A report from Combate.com on Wednesday declared that Wanderlei Silva missed a required licensing hearing in Nevada for his UFC 175 fight with Chael Sonnen. The report continued to state that Vitor Belfort had already agreed to take Silva’s place, and was already cleared by Nevada to fight.
That is mostly true.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Wednesday confirmed to MMAWeekly.com that there were indeed issues related to Silva’s licensing that have knocked him out of the highly anticipated fight with Sonnen. Company officials also confirmed that Belfort has agreed to step in for him.
“Due to issues related to Wanderlei Silva’s licensing in the state of Nevada, the UFC was forced to seek a replacement opponent to face Chael Sonnen at UFC 175 on Saturday, July 5 in Las Vegas,” according to a statement from the UFC. “Former UFC champion Vitor Belfort has accepted the fight with Sonnen, subject to Belfort receiving a license to compete from the Nevada Athletic Commission.”
Although UFC officials did not clarify Silva’s licensing issues, Nevada State Athletic Commission Chairman Francisco Aguilar told MMAWeekly.com that Silva never submitted an application to get licensed in Nevada, while Belfort did.
But that doesn’t mean that everything is smooth sailing into the planned July 5 showdown.
Sonnen and Belfort, both age 37, are required to undergo a comprehensive review, which includes providing urine samples as part of their medical requirements and going before the commission in order to get a license to fight.
Sonnen already did so, and received approval at the commission’s last meeting.
Belfort last week submitted his application and required medicals, and Aguilar said that his test results showed that he was within the proper limits. He will, however, still have to go before the commission on June 17 for a comprehensive review by the commission before he receives an approval or denial.
While Belfort’s urine samples and other medical requirements were approved, the comprehensive review is likely to be more than a formality, if past cases are any indicator.
Belfort has failed a drug test in Nevada in the past, while fighting for Pride FC, and he has the ghost of unreleased drug test results from a surprise drug test administered by the Nevada commission in February lingering over his shoulder. Either or both could become a part of the comprehensive review, and thus, public record, if he is asked about them by commissioners at the June 17 meeting, which is likely to happen.
Fighters that have failed drug tests in the past in Nevada, have generally been questioned about them when they once again meet with the commission for approval for a new license in the state. That does not necessarily mean that they will be denied a license. Fighters such as Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett are two prominent fighters that have had issues with the commission in the past that have gone on to gain clearance to fight in the state again.
So, while Silva is out, Belfort only has one foot in until June 17. But he did at least show up for the dance.