Thiago Silva stands over Keith Jardine - Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
It appears that Brandon Vera jumped the gun when he informed the UFC that he was ready to fight and wanted a rematch with the recently-reinstated Thiago Silva for his next bout. Although matchmaker Joe Silva granted Vera's request and booked the rematch for UFC on FX 3 in Virginia on May 15th, Vera went to the doctor after the fight was agreed-to only to find out that he could not be cleared to fight yet. Vera later apologized to the fans and the UFC for getting ahead of himself, but Joe Silva was already busy finding a replacement for Vera and now it appears he has one in Igor Pokrajac, according to a report from MMA Weekly:
With Brandon Vera sidelined due to injury, Thiago Silva will now face Croatian Igor Pokrajac at UFC on FX 3 in May. Sources close to the fight confirmed the new bout to MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday with bout agreements issued for the May 15 light heavyweight tilt.
Pokrajac has quietly put together the first back-to-back wins of his UFC careers, most recently knocking out Krzysztof Soszynski in a mild upset in December (a loss that convinced Soszynski to retire as well), which followed a TKO win over Todd Brown last March. The Croatian kickboxing specialist is a longtime training partner of Mirko Cro Cop, but he also incorporates a solid BJJ game into his skill-set, which is not something Cro Cop was known for.
Silva, one of the most fearsome fighters in the UFC, was struggling to get his career back on track at the time of the Vera fight, having gone 1-2 after starting his career at 13-0, but an altered urine sample only derailed those hopes and earned him a No Contest in the Vera fight, which he otherwise dominated, and a one-year suspension. Now having fully served his suspension, the American Top Team fighter who combines excellent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills with vicious Muay Thai will have to push that Vera rematch out of his mind and instead focus on Pokrajac.
Igor "The Duke" Pokrajac (24-8)
W Krzysztof Soszynski (KO) - UFC 140
W Todd Brown (TKO) - UFC on Versus 3
L Stephan Bonnar (unam. decision) - TUF 12 Finale
Thiago Silva (14-2, 1 NC)
NC Brandon Vera - UFC 125
L Rashad Evans (unam. decision) - UFC 108
W Keith Jardine (KO) - UFC 102