September 28, 2010

by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com The UFC has decided to place Vitor Belfort as the next contender to face Anderson Silva for his middleweight title, but when the two Brazilians will actually meet in the cage is all up to the champion’s injured ribs.

Following a near five-round war with Chael Sonnen in August, Silva admitted that he went into the fight with a rib injury that almost forced him to pull out of the title fight. He persevered through the pain, but almost lost his belt until a submission saved the night when he finished Sonnen late in the fight.

Now committed to getting healthy before heading back into the gym, Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, gave MMAWeekly.com an update on the champion’s injured ribs, and how long he’ll be on the sidelines before he can even get back into training.

“His rib is still very tender, still very sore. It’s still a little bit sore, but it’s healing up. It’s still not 100-percent,” said Soares.

“He needs to be training at least 10 weeks with his ribs not being hurt. They’re still tender, it really hurts to throw his knees and stuff like that.”

The date for the proposed Silva vs. Belfort fight had been talked about for the New Year’s Day card set to take place in Las Vegas. But according to Soares, the timeline for recovery made a Jan. 1 date difficult at best.

“I think at this point we don’t know what date it’s going to be yet,” Soares admitted. “It’s definitely going to be next year, we’re just not sure if it’s going to be on Jan. 1 or Super Bowl.”

The Super Bowl will play out on Feb. 6, 2011, in Dallas. The UFC has yet to announce any official plans for its show coinciding with that weekend, but the night prior to the Super Bowl has come to be expected annually as one of the promotion’s biggest cards of the year.

Silva vs. Belfort will headline whatever event it lands on, and it’s looking more and more like the health of the champion’s ribs is forcing a February date.

Belfort went to his Twitter account this week and said, ‘hey guys looks like I will be fighting on (February) on Super Bowl week,’ but there still hasn’t been any official word setting the date in stone.

The main event for UFC 125 on Jan. 1 was confirmed recently with Frankie Edgar defending his belt against Gray Maynard, which virtually locks in Silva and Belfort for the Super Bowl card.

As far as the change of opponents from Chael Sonnen to Vitor Belfort, Silva is on board for either choice.

“Great, it doesn’t make a difference,” Soares said about the opponent. “Whoever they put in front of us, like I’ve said before we’ve never chosen who our opponents are. Whoever the UFC offers, we’re fine with. If it’s Vitor, then great, it’s Vitor.”