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Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort revealed as UFC 181 headliner

Belfort gets license from athletic commission, fight from the UFC on Wednesday morning

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Sam Morris

UFC fighter Vitor Belfort watches the fights at UFC 168 Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Chris Weidman has already taken out two of the most decorated Brazilian fighters during his tenure as the UFC middleweight champion.

The 30-year-old from New York will now move on to his third. Weidman (12-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) will attempt to defend his title against Vitor Belfort (24-10 MMA, 13-6 UFC) on Dec. 6 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in the main event of UFC 181, the promotion announced this morning.

Belfort tries to succeed where his fellow countrymen Anderson Silva, whom Weidman defeated twice, and Lyoto Machia, whom Weidman beat via unanimous decision earlier this month, failed.

Belfort became the 185-pound division’s top contender last November when he registered a third-straight head-kick knockout and was supposed to meet Weidman in the main event of UFC 173.

But Belfort had to pull out after failing a random drug test in February before the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned testosterone replacement therapy, which he had used for the last couple years. The only hurdle to booking Weidman vs. Belfort was the challenger getting his license.

The commission granted him one in a meeting today, and the UFC announced the fight less than an hour later.

UFC 181 is one of three upcoming pay-per-views scheduled for Las Vegas. A light heavyweight championship rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson headlines UFC 178 on Sept. 27 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The same venue will host the traditional New Year’s weekend card, UFC 182 this year, on Jan. 3, 2015.

Weidman vs. Belfort is the only announced fight for UFC 181, though both a lightweight title fight between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez and women’s bantamweight championship defense from Ronda Rousey have been rumored for the event.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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