Despite only having hours to work with, the UFC matchmakers worked their magic and got a new UFC 200 opponent for Daniel Cormier.
Cormier, originally slated to rematch Jon Jones in the UFC 200 main event, will now face none other than former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
A report earlier in the day on Thursday by Brazilian outlet Globo was denied by UFC officials. Later in the evening, independent sources confirmed to MMAWeekly.com that Silva would step in to fight Cormier following a report by TMZ Sports. MMAWeekly sources said the bout would be a three-round non-title fight, considering the late nature of the replacement.
UFC officials later confirmed the fight to MMAWeekly.com as well.
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Aside from the new fight, UFC officials again shifted the bout order. After Jones was pulled from the card, UFC president Dana White said that Lesnar vs. Hunt would be the new headliner, but on Thursday night, that changed as well.
The new bout order will now be UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate putting her belt on the line against Amanda Nunes in the main event, Lesnar vs. Hunt in the co-main event, then in descending order: Cormier vs. Silva, Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar, and Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne.
Despite the last-minute nature of the situation, White had remained hopeful that he could find someone to keep Cormier on the promotion’s biggest fight card of the year.
“This is devastating to Daniel Cormier mentally and physically — he just went through a camp – and financially. This pay-per-view is trending to be massive, and he shares in that revenue, so it’s devastating to him in every way it could possibly be,” said White during an impromptu press conference Wednesday evening.
“Maybe somebody wants to pop up and fight Cormier last minute. Stranger things have happened, so we’ll see what happens. I would like for that to happen for Cormier.”
His hopefulness paid off, as several fighters threw their names in the hat to be considered. Chief among the initial salvo of fighters was middleweight champion Michael Bisping, former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi, and top light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson.
MMAWeekly.com sources also indicated that Silva was approached, but a decision wasn’t made and a deal completed until late Thursday.
Less than two months removed from successful gallbladder surgery, Silva hasn’t fought since February of this year, when he lost a controversial decision to Bisping, prior to the Brit becoming champion.