• UFC 173

Belfort won't fight at UFC 173

March 1, 2014
Vitor Belfort will not apply for a fighter's licence to appear at the May 24 pay-per-view event © Getty Images

UFC middleweight contender Vitor Belfort will not fight Chris Weidman for the 185-pound title as planned at UFC 173 in Las Vegas.

On the same day the Nevada State Athletic Commission unanimously voted in favor of banning testosterone-replacement therapy, Belfort, 36, announced he would not apply for a fighter's licence to appear at the May 24 pay-per-view event.

Belfort (24-10) received exemptions to use TRT in his past three fights, all of which took place in Brazil. He said he did not feel he had enough time to adjust to the commission's ruling.

"The NSAC recently altered its policy and no longer will permit testosterone use exemptions," Belfort said in a statement. "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 licence to fight in Nevada at this time."

Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will step into Belfort's place. Machida (21-4) is 2-0 in the UFC's middleweight division.

On Friday, however, Belfort took to social media to dispute the details of his withdrawal, saying it was the UFC's decision to pull him from the fight.

"I never gave up fighting at UFC 173 and never said that," Belfort wrote, according to a translation of tweets posted in Portuguese. "Therefore, any information published in any medium of communication announcing this is not true.

"The UFC decided to put another opponent in my place because I do not have the required time to adapt myself to 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 athletic commissions."

"Machida is a dangerous fighter and he knows what it takes to become champion," Weidman said in a statement. "He's been on my radar since he dropped to 185, so I'm looking forward to defending my title against him."

Earlier this month, Belfort consented to a random drug test administered by the NSAC while he was in Las Vegas to attend an awards show. The results of that test were not publicly released as of Thursday's announcement.

The Brazilian's application for a use exemption for TRT was a highly anticipated affair, as Belfort tested positive for the anabolic steroid 4-Hydroxytestosterone following a professional bout in Las Vegas in 2006.

His application became a moot point when the NSAC voted to ban the treatment entirely from combat sports.

Belfort has rigorously defended his treatment in the past. In a recent interview with ESPN's Outside the Lines, he reiterated his stance that he would be at an athletic disadvantage without it. He won his past three fights via knockout.

UFC president Dana White praised the NSAC's decision to ban TRT, calling it "a great day for the sport." The UFC also intends to ban TRT use during events it self-regulates overseas.

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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