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Akiyama-Belfort meet in Philly, middleweight division heating up again

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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After a short break, the UFC's middleweight division has a ton of good fights falling into place. Today, the UFC announced Yoshihiro Akiyama is back and he'll face Vitor Belfort. Belfort is badly in need of a big win after getting booted in the face and losing to Anderson Silva back in February at UFC 126.

Akiyama and Belfort will square off at UFC 133 in Philadelphia in early August. Akiyama (13-3, 1-2 UFC) last fought in October at UFC 120. "Sexyama" was submitted in the final minutes against Chris Leben. He's lost two straight, but he's also garnered Fight of the Night awards his last three times out.

Here's a look at the rest of the scheduled bouts for 185ers near the top of the UFC's middleweight division.{ysp:more}

UFC 130: Brian Stann vs. Jorge Santiago

UFC 131: Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz

UFC 132: Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben

UFC 134: Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami

We're still waiting for the next shoe to drop on middleweight bad boys Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping. Sonnen has to sit down with the Nevada State Athletic Commission in mid-May. The UFC has been tight-lipped about the actual penalty it handed down to Bisping for his spitting incident at UFC 127. One would think, he'll be back in the Octagon no later than July or August. Alan Belcher recently announced that he's ready to return in September.

The division lost one its bigger names with Nate Marquardt dropping to 170, where he'll debut against Anthony Johnson as the main event at UFC on Versus 4 in Pittsburgh in late June.

Traditionally, middleweight has been one of the promotion's weaker divisions. That could change once Strikeforce fighters like Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Tim Kennedy, Jason Miller and Robbie Lawler start crossing over.

Update:  That didn't take long. Miller has officially signed a deal with the UFC.

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