• UFC 133

Akiyama and Belfort to wage war at UFC 133 - official

ESPN staff
April 21, 2011

UFC 133 will feature an explosive middleweight encounter between Yoshihiro Akiyama and Vitor Belfort, ESPN can exclusively reveal.

Speculation has mounted over the timing and identity of Belfort's next opponent, with UFC Rio widely touted for his return following defeat to Anderson Silva. The names of Michael Bisping and Wanderlei Silva have been linked in recent times, although Silva is now slated to fight Chris Leben at UFC 132, and the UFC has officially confirmed The Phenom's next challenge for August 6.

"Verbal agreements are in for a battle between two of the most exciting fighters in the middleweight division," UFC president Dana White told ESPN.

"Coming off three straight Fight of the Night performances, Yoshihiro Akiyama will take on former UFC light-heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort in Philadelphia."

Like Belfort, Akiyama is coming off a loss - to Bisping - but his last three wars have all gone to a third round. By contrast, Belfort's last three encounters have all ended inside the opening stanza via knockout. Something has to give.

The middleweight showdown bolsters a card already boasting a middleweight collision between Jorge Rivera and Alessio Sakara and the next outing of exciting 20-year-old bantamweight Michael McDonald against Nick Pace.

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