Nate Marquardt to Replace Vitor Belfort, Face Yushin Okami at UFC 122

Just a week removed from UFC action, Nate Marquardt already has his next assignment.

The UFC middleweight star has been called upon to replace Vitor Belfort and face Yushin Okami at UFC 122 in Oberhausen, Germany, MMA Fighting has confirmed through sources with knowledge of the situation.

The change was first reported by MMA Weekly.

Marquardt fought on Sept. 15 at the UFC's Ultimate Fight Night 22 show, scoring a first-round TKO over Brazilian grappling ace Rousimar Palhares. Ironically, the day after his victory, he told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that he'd be more than willing to fill in for either Belfort or Okami if either of them was forced out of their bout.

Now, it appears he'll get that wish as he moves into the main event slot vacated by Belfort, who may now move directly into a middleweight title match with Anderson Silva.

MMA Fighting could not immediately confirm an injury reported for Belfort's removal from the UFC 122 match, which had only been officially announced by the promotion earlier this week. Belfort has not fought since a Sept. 2009 win over Rich Franklin, and had been hoping to return after rehabbing from arthroscopic shoulder surgery performed in February.

Marquardt (30-9-2) has long been considered one of the sport's top middleweights, and he once fought Silva for the title, losing to the champion via first-round TKO at UFC 73 in July 2007. At UFC 109, he chased another shot at the belt, but lost in a No. 1 contenders fight to Chael Sonnen.

Now, it appears Marquardt will get a third crack at a UFC title opportunity. The Belfort-Okami bout had been officially declared a No. 1 contenders fight, and it seems unlikely that the UFC would pull the potential opportunity off the table for Okami.

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