It’s not the title shot that Vitor Belfort had hoped for, but the former light heavyweight champion will face Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on May 14 in Brazil, with the winner making a strong case to remain in middleweight title contention.
UFC officials announced the bout and the event on Tuesday, although they had yet to name a specific location. The event will air live on FOX Sports 1 in the United States.
Belfort had been linked to a rumored rematch with Anderson Silva at UFC 197 on March 5 in Rio de Janeiro, but that all changed when UFC 197 was shifted to Las Vegas and Silva was shifted to a bout against Michael Bisping in February in London.
Coming off of a win over Dan Henderson in November, Belfort (25-11) is currently 4-1 during his recent run at middleweight. His lone loss during that stretch was to then-champion Chris Weidman. His odds of getting another title shot were certainly helped when Luke Rockhold, whom he holds a win over, recently defeated Weidman for the belt.
Jacare (22-4, 1 NC) recently had an eight-fight winning streak halted by Yoel Romero at UFC 194 in December. The outcome of that split-decision loss will likely stand, even though Romero was recently popped for a potential out-of-competition anti-doping violation.
Considering the narrow margin in the Romero fight, his previous streak, and his most recent loss before Romero being to Rockhold, a win over Belfort would go a long way towards putting Jacare into a title fight.