Although it reeks of political corruption at the highest level, multiple-time drug cheat Vitor Belfort will be licensed to fight Chris Weidman on Dec. 6 for the UFC Middleweight Championship. There’s only one silver lining to this story, and it’s that the UFC 181 main event is taking place in Nevada.
In hindsight, Nevada was the only place that Weidman vs. Belfort could happen. Not only is it the safest place for Weidman as far as fighter safety, but it’s also the most likely place Belfort will test positive for any type of illegal substances, whether it’s steroids, marijuana or excessive amounts of testosterone.
It’s really a win-win situation for the Nevada State Athletic Commission, at least on face value alone. Not only do they get to ensure themselves yet another multi-million dollar MMA event, but they also have the ability to protect themselves by randomly testing Belfort for the next handful of months.
Of course, there’s the open question of whether or not he will be tested as thoroughly as possible.
Not only did the NSAC basically bend over backwards to let Belfort get approved for a license, but the UFC waited roughly three seconds after Belfort’s hearing segment to announce the Weidman vs. Belfort match. Surprisingly enough, even Belfort’s own lawyer admitted that an agreement for UFC 181 was in place before the NSAC even went into session, suggesting five things:
• Vitor Belfort was never in any danger of having his license denied.
• UFC and NSAC officials were working together to ensure a date for Nevada from the start.
• The NSAC has very little interest in Belfort failing a drug test.
• The UFC will have a back-up plan if Belfort somehow does fail a random screening.
• Belfort will likely fight in Brazil from now on if he wins the title.
At the end of the day, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has two major goals. They must protect the health of athletes completing in its state and ensure a steady revenue stream that funds their operations. Denying Belfort a license serves the former need but not the latter. Giving him a license and threatening to test him frequently gives the illusion of the former, while also ensuring the big money fight.
That’s a dangerous situation for Weidman, who very much feels like a third wheel in his own title fight.
Aside from a third fight with former middleweight champion Anderson Silva or a potential super-fight against current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, there’s no bigger money ticket available for Weidman outside of Belfort. From a financial standpoint, it’s more obvious now than ever what was going to happen from the minute the NSAC listened to Belfort’s prepared statement.