The last time UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman fought someone not named Anderson Silva was in June 2012, but that will change in 2014 when he takes on Vitor Belfort.
UFC president Dana White confirmed that Belfort is the No. 1 contender in the 185-pound division and though no date is set, the Brazilian is scheduled to be Weidman’s next challenger.
Belfort was cageside for Weidman’s win over Silva at UFC 168 — in which Silva broke his leg while landing a kick — and was impressed with what he saw but explained he’s not intimidated.
“He was doing great. He was dominating the fight. He’s a great champion. He is pretty good on the ground,” Belfort told reporters following Saturday’s event in Las Vegas. “I’m just training to win.”
Belfort (24-10) picked up three wins in 2013 after stopping Dan Henderson, Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping with head-kick knockouts.
The 36-year-old Brazilian believes he has what it takes to hand Weidman the first loss of his career.
“It’s just about being unpredictable,” Belfort said. “You’ve got to face something that you can not study.”
Weidman (11-0) is a perfect 7-0 in the UFC with two wins over Silva, plus victories over notables Demian Maia and Mark Munoz
Belfort, who hasn’t competed in the United States since a 2011 win over Yoshihiro Akiyama, added that he is willing to fight Weidman in any country. “I have fans everywhere, loyal fans, they know what I’m there for.”
The former UFC light-heavyweight and Heavyweight Tournament champ also expressed his disappointment for what happened to Silva.
“I was sad. I was shocked. I was upset,” Belfort said. “Nobody wants to end up like that. It’s sad but it’s part of the job. In football we have injuries, in soccer we have injuries, in fighting we have injuries.”