Fresh off a definitive first-round stoppage against Rousimar Palhares less than a week ago, Nate Marquardt has propelled himself into the UFC 122 headliner against Yushin Okami on Nov. 13 at the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany.
Marquardt will reportedly replace Vitor Belfort, according to the first report of the middleweight mix-up from Mixedmartialarts.com on Tuesday. Sherdog.com independently confirmed the new matchup, as well.
According to sources, Belfort, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, has not been removed from the roster due to injury, leading to speculation that the promotion might be trying to rekindle a bout between the 33-year-old Brazilian and UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in either January or February. That title bout was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 112 last April in Abu Dhabi, but Belfort withdrew with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
On Monday, the California State Athletic Commission confirmed that Chael Sonnen, who was set to rematch Silva for the middleweight championship in January or February, tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in the wake of his gripping fifth-round defeat to the reigning titleholder on Aug. 7 in Oakland, Calif.
Sonnen faces a maximum one-year suspension and $2,500 fine for the infraction. The Team Quest fighter will have the opportunity to contest the suspension at a CSAC hearing on Dec. 2 in Sacramento, Calif.
The promotion had announced on Monday that Belfort-Okami would be a title eliminator bout; it is not known yet if the new fight will garner the same status.
Marquardt defeated Brazilian Top Team’s Palhares with strikes after slipping out of the jiu-jitsu black belt’s leglock attempt nearly three minutes into their bout. Palhares initially protested the outcome, accusing the 31-year-old of using a greasing agent on his legs. Marquardt was immediately inspected in the cage and vindicated of the allegation.
Okami, 29, earned a split decision against Mark Munoz at UFC Live 2 in August. A longtime staple of the promotion’s middleweight ranks, Okami touts wins over Dean Lister, Alan Belcher, Mike Swick and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 semi-finalist Kalib Starnes.