Vitor Belfort is a man with no wins in the UFC's middleweight division. Vitor Belfort will be the next challenger looking to dethrone middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 125. These, amazingly enough, are both factual statements. But how can that be?
The problem, essentially, is depth. In the middleweight division there is none. It's a problem Silva himself noted some time ago - it's a big part of why he wanted to test himself in the light heavyweight division. But now Silva wants to stay put. Booking the champion at 205 pounds isn't an option for UFC brass who aren't allowed to force a fighter into any particular weight class. So dream matchups with Jon Jones and Randy Couture are non-starters. Silva is taking fights only in the middleweight division. And with Chael Sonnen on the shelf, Belfort steps in as the next best thing.
Sonnen's positive steroid test forced the UFC's hand, forced them to make this move. With five consecutive wins, Belfort's a viable contender in theory. With a name built over 15 years in the sport, he's the biggest name available. Ideally Belfort would have dispatched Yushin Okami at UFC 122 and come into a title fight with lots of momentum behind him. But UFC matchmakers rarely get to live in an ideal world.
The UFC feels strongly that Belfort-Silva is a legitimate main event match, not a main event in name only that will need to be supported by a bank breaking semi-main event. With interest in Silva at an all-time high and tons of footage with which to promote Belfort's stunningly fast hands and incredible power, they may just be right.