The UFC’s middleweight division has apparently taken two hits this week. The first came when the CSAC reported that UFC middleweight cotnender has tested positive for PED’s during a UFC 117 pre-fight drug test. Sonnen apparently tested abnormally high for testosterone. Sonnen was scheduled to have an immediate re-match with champion Anderson Silva, but an impending one-year suspension will thwart that plan. The Sonnen-Silva II match was a compelling match that would have drawn a lot of attention as Sonnen beat up the champion for over four rounds before being caught in a triangle choke. Sonnen is now temporarily out of the picture.
News broke yesterday that Vitor Belfort was forced out of his UFC 122 headliner fight with Yushin Okami due to an injury. The nature of Belfort’s injury is unknown. The Belfort vs. Okami fight was to determine the next contender. The winner of that fight would have faced the winner of Silva vs. Sonnen. Some have proposed that Belfort was not injured, but was removed from the card to face Silva in January, but that is just speculation.
The initial plan seemed good. Silva vs. Sonnen is January and Belfort vs. Okami would be an nearly undisputed number one contender. Now, we have a less than stellar headler at UFC 122 in Nate Marquardt vs. Yushin Okami. I believe that Okami is deserving of a number one contender fight and I think Nate Marquardt is a formidable opponent who very well could beat Okami, however it appears that the eventual title fight will be less intriguing. Both Okami and Marquardt were hadled by Chael Sonnen. Both Okami and Marquardt have faced Silva before. Okami has a win on his record against Silva while Marquardt has a loss. Both Okami and Marquardt are top 5 middleweights in the world. However, Silva vs. Belfort and Silva vs. Sonnen II are the fights that intrigue me and now both of those fight appear to be on hold…at least for now.
Before fans complain, I do not know what else could have been done by the UFC. It is not their fault Sonnen failed a drug test and that Belfort got injured. Marquardt is the most obvious choice for a replacement for Belfort. Who else could even be a legit contender? Bisping is tied up and needs some wins to prove he can contend. Wanderlei is nursing an injury. Leben got destroyed by Silva once. Belcher’s career is in danger due to an eye injury. Demian Maia will never get another shot at Silva. If Akiyama beats Bisping he will be in the mix. I think Jake Shields could be a serious option.
For now the UFC’s middleweight division has a taken a few hits and the lack of legit contenders in the division is crystal clear.