Hand Injury Forces Belfort off Affliction Card

By Brian Knapp Aug 15, 2008
A lingering hand injury forced former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort (Pictures) to withdraw from his scheduled showdown with Matt Lindland (Pictures) at Affliction “Day of Reckoning” on Oct. 11 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Affliction vice president Tom Atencio (Pictures) confirmed the news Friday.

“It’s really disappointing,” Atencio said. “It’s a big fight, but if [Belfort] can’t fight, he can’t fight. The guy’s got a broken hand. There’s no use crying over spilled milk.”

No replacement was named, though Atencio indicated he was “talking to a couple of people.” Rumors continue to swirl around EliteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields (Pictures) (21-4-1) and his possible inclusion on the card, perhaps as an opponent for Lindland (21-5). Atencio declined to comment on Shields, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and one of the world’s premier 170-pound fighters.

Belfort (17-8) sustained the injury in his July 19 conquest of Terry Martin (Pictures) at Affliction “Banned” at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The 31-year-old Brazilian knocked out Martin with second-round punches, as he won his third consecutive bout. Now a member of the reputable Xtreme Couture squad out of Las Vegas, Belfort has enjoyed something of a renaissance after his 2006 loss to Dan Henderson (Pictures) and subsequent suspension for suspected steroid use.

Atencio expects Belfort and Lindland to meet under the Affliction banner at some point in the future. An Olympic silver medalist in 2000, the 38-year-old Lindland last fought in July when he roughed up Brazilian middleweight Fabio Negao (Pictures) en route to a unanimous decision victory. He has lost to only two men – Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (Pictures) and the incomparable Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) -- in the last four years.

A heavyweight match between former UFC titleholders Josh Barnett (Pictures) and Andrei Arlovski (Pictures) will headline Affliction “Day of Reckoning.” Two other high-profile heavyweight bouts will pit International Fight League champion Roy Nelson (Pictures) against Paul Buentello (Pictures) and Ben Rothwell (Pictures) against Pedro Rizzo (Pictures).

“I think it’s a big card,” Atencio said. “There have been a couple of glitches, but that’s par for the course.”
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