You read that right, fans and friends. First seen on MMAWeekly, Vitor Belfort has once again pulled out of an upcoming bout with an injury. This time his opponent was scheduled to be Yushin Okami, in a match that would have determined the next challenger to Anderson Silva’s UFC Middleweight Championship. Belfort has been plagued with injuries for the majority of his latest UFC tenure, and it now looks as if Nate Marquardt will step in on short notice and face Yushin Okami in the main event of UFC 122.

According to the report, Belfort was stricken down with an as-yet-unknown injury, with details still developing. The one-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion is on a five-fight win-streak, his last loss occurring back when PRIDE FC was still around. Despite not having a fight at Middleweight in the UFC, his 195-pound catchweight bout with former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin, where “The Phenom” turned out Franklin’s lights in record time, propelled him to the top of the contender’s list. Belfort hasn’t fought once since that September 2009 fight.

It was confirmed that the winner of Belfort/Okami would be given the next shot at Anderson Silva’s Middleweight crown, and the odds are likely that this stipulation will still be attached to the Okami/Marquardt match-up. Despite a few bumps in the road, Nate Marquardt has been slowly, steadily, and sometimes dramatically working his way towards another title shot after getting TKO’d by Anderson Silva back in 2007. Yushin Okami remains the last man to have ever beaten Anderson Silva, even if the loss came when Silva threw an illegal kick and was disqualified.

I’m honestly a bit disappointed that Belfort/Okami has gone the way of the dodo. I was really looking forward to the return of “The Phenom”, who I’ve both admired and followed for quite some time. I think Belfort/Silva is destined to happen, no matter how many roadblocks are put in front of it. And if it’s not meant to be, I just hope that Belfort remains healthy enough to at least fight again in the UFC. He’s in the middle of a dramatic rebirth, and it keeps getting halted. It’s a shame to see, and I’d hate to see Belfort’s career resurrection be cut short if all these injuries result in him coming back to the Octagon with a sizeable amount of ring rust.

But there’s nothing any of us can really do, Marquardt/Okami is what we’re going to get. And you know what? That isn’t a bad match at all. In fact, I think it’s a credible main event for a foreign card. Marquardt has really impressed me lately, and if it weren’t for the stumbling block that was the loss to Chael Sonnen, I’d say that Marquardt is ready for an immediate title shot. Yushin Okami has always been an incredibly tough fighter, and while he may not be the most exciting athlete of all time, he gets the job done and I think it’s high time that he finally gets a chance to fight for the title.

And if you want to know what I think? It’ll be a rough night for Yushin Okami fans, since he’ll take another step backwards and once again be in a “so close and yet so far away” scenario. I’m thinking Nate “The Great” will win this by TKO or KO, based on his superior striking and footwork. If Okami does win, it’ll have to be by grinding out a decision. And that’s a very tall task for someone who can be as sneakily explosive as Nate “The Great” Marquardt.

And what about you, fans and friends? Who do you see winning the changed UFC 122 main event?

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