Following the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s unanimous vote to ban testosterone replacement therapy, Vitor Belfort has withdrawn from UFC 173, officials announced on Thursday evening.
In Belfort’s place, Lyoto Machida will fight UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman on the upcoming pay-per-view card, which takes place May 24.
UFC president Dana White said Machida earned the title shot after dominating his last two fights after dropping to the middleweight division from the 205-pound ranks.
“He’s earned this shot at Weidman, who’s coming off two straight wins over the greatest fighter of all time, Anderson Silva,” White said in a statement. “Machida wants nothing more than to avenge the losses of his friend and training partner, and become just the third fighter in UFC history to win titles in two separate weight classes.”
The NSAC voted unanimously on Thursday to ban the controversial therapeutic use of testosterone, and the UFC soon after announced it would follow suit and no longer grant TRT exemptions for any of the events it self-governed in regions without a governing body to oversee fight cards.
Thursday’s news prompted Belfort to forego applying for a license to fight in the state of Nevada and withdraw from the May pay-per-view. Additionally, Belfort said he will no longer undergo testosterone replacement therapy, choosing to fight in MMA without it from now on.
“The Nevada State Athletic Commission recently altered its policy and no longer will permit testosterone use exemptions, and will not permit a TRT program,” Belfort said in a statement to FOX Sports Live. “As other jurisdictions may follow suit, I am going to drop my TRT program and compete in MMA without it. Given the time constraints involved between now and my proposed next bout in May, I have determined not to apply for a license to fight in Nevada at this time.”
The champion, Weidman, said he’s kept his eye on Machida since the former light heavyweight champion cut down to 185 pounds, and welcomes his challenge.
Much of the talk following Machida’s last fight, a domination of Gegard Mousasi, included Machida being next in line to face the winner of the Weidman vs. Belfort bout. After Thursday’s news, Weidman said he’s looking forward to defending his title against a fighter that he said knows how to collect championship belts.
“Machida is a dangerous fighter and he knows what it takes to become champion,” Weidman told FOX Sports Live. “He’s been on my radar since he dropped to 185, so I’m looking forward to defending my title against him at UFC 173 in May.”
Machida shared Weidman’s enthusiasm for the new main event.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity to fight UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman,” Machida said. “I’m going to train hard and be well prepared for this fight.”
UFC 173 is scheduled to take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
(Follow @Erik_Fontanez on Twitter)