Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
A long-rumored bout pitting UFC veteran Vitor Belfort (22-10) against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (10-1) is slated to headline a UFC event in Brazil in the coming months. Brazilian outlet Tatame first reported the news, which was later confirmed by UFC President Dana White.
A date and venue for the event were not specified, though White expects the event to take place in the second quarter of 2013. White previously hinted the match-up to be in the works last month during UFC on FOX 6's pre-fight scrum. Given the state of the middleweight division, the bout will likely go a long way towards determining a challenger for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
A lingering shoulder injury has sidelined Rockhold, 28, for the last six months, sinking anticipated Strikeforce title defenses against undefeated prospect Lorenz Larkin in both November and January. After narrowly upsetting Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza to capture the Strikeforce strap, Rockhold successfully defended his belt twice in 2012, blitzing through Keith Jardine and soundly outpointing Tim Kennedy.
Belfort, 35, now looks to play the role of spoiler once again, after derailing Michael Bisping's opportunity at a title shot by knocking out the Brit via second-round head kick at UFC on FX 7. Belfort was controversially granted a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone-replacement therapy prior to the bout, despite testing positive for the anabolic steroid 4-Hydroxytestosterone in 2006.
The highlight-reel finish marked Belfort's eighth victory over his past ten fights, with "The Phenom" only falling short to Silva and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones over that span.
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