It was announced late Thursday night that Vitor Belfort was out of his scheduled fight with UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 173 on May 24 in Las Vegas, and that Lyoto Machida would step in to take his place.
The move came within hours of the Nevada State Athletic Commission voting unanimously to ban applications for exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy, effective immediately.
Belfort has made no secret that he uses TRT and has received multiple exemptions to compete while using the therapy.
A statement from the UFC announcing the change read:
“Belfort, who has previously been granted therapeutic use exemptions, recognizes that he needs an extended period of time to become licensed in the state of Nevada.
With the event scheduled to go on sale shortly, Belfort agreed to withdraw from the fight in order to allow the UFC’s promotional efforts to move forward on time.”
Belfort’s statement to UFC television partner Fox Sports 1 read:
“The Nevada State Athletic Commission recently altered its policy and no longer will permit testosterone use exemptions, and will not permit a TRT program. As other jurisdictions may follow suit, I am going to drop my TRT program and compete in MMA without it. Given the time constraints involved between now and my proposed next bout in May, I have determined not to apply for a license to fight in Nevada at this time.”
Come Friday morning, Belfort disagreed with the way his removal from the fight was being portrayed by much of the media, and issued the following statement to MMAWeekly.com:
“I never gave up fighting in UFC 173 and never mentioned it. Therefore, all information posted in any mass media advertising that is not true.
What I announced was that I will be resigning ‘TRT’ and not ‘giving up the fight’ to continue my dream of fighting.
The UFC decided to put another opponent in my place because I didn't have time to fit the new rules of the NSAC. According to the UFC, I will face the winner of Weidman vs. Lyoto within the new regulations of all the Athletic Commissions.
I'm sorry that this happened, and I appreciate the strength and understanding of all fans, sponsors, UFC and athletic commissions.”
One matter that has not been addressed that may have influenced the decision was an out-of-competition random drug test that Nevada gave Belfort on Feb. 7 when he was in Las Vegas for an MMA awards show.
The results of that test are in, but they have not been made public.
NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar confirmed to MMAWeekly.com that because Belfort is not currently licensed in Nevada, and because Belfort has not provided permission, the commission does not have the necessary consent to release information regarding the drug test result.
Aguilar said that the test was administered in an attempt to facilitate its due diligence since the commission was aware that Belfort would soon be applying for a license to fight Chris Weidman in Las Vegas in May, coupled with Belfort’s history that includes his TRT use and a previous failed drug test in Nevada in 2006.
Aguilar also confirmed that the Feb. 7 random drug test was voluntary since Belfort was not licensed by Nevada at the time, and that he consented to the test.
Belfort and his camp have not revealed the result of that test. His attorney, Neal Tabachnick, had not responded to MMAWeekly.com’s requests for comment in regard to the test results at the time of publication.
UFC officials had no further comment on the situation at the time of publication.