Few Saturdays are as synonymous with the UFC putting on a major event as the card offered annually on Super Bowl weekend. With past years providing action featuring Randy Couture, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Frank Edgar, and a number of the sport’s biggest stars, 2011 will be no exception as the UFC has officially announced a trio of main card bouts with a current champion, three former title-holders, and two of the brightest young stars in the light heavyweight division.
As expected, Anderson Silva will put his middleweight belt up for grabs against former 205-pound champ Vitor Belfort in the evening’s headlining match-up on February 5 at UFC 126.
“This is a fight I’ve been looking forward to for a while,” Silva said of his upcoming defense against Belfort. “Vitor is a very talented striker and a tough competitor. I am training very hard and I know that the fight could go anywhere, but I expect a standup war. I also want to say that I’m very excited to be fighting in Las Vegas again. I have a lot of fans in Vegas and it’s been a while since I’ve fought there. The fans are always very loud in Las Vegas and I feed off that energy.”
“UFC fans expect big things from us every year for our Super Bowl weekend show, and this year could be our biggest ever,” an equally excited Dana White said. “Silva vs. Belfort is a fight fan’s dream match. It’s a fight people have wanted for years. Don’t blink because both of these guys have dynamite in their hands and can end the night quickly and in very exciting fashion.”
Also slated for action against each other are two of the UFC’s most-popular fighters, as well as former champions in their own right, Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin. Griffin has not fought since his split decision win over Tito Ortiz in November 2009 and will no doubt be anxious to engage with “Ace” once the cage door closes.
In addition to Griffin vs. Franklin, the UFC confirmed another pair of light heavyweights would be facing off at the event – Jon Jones and Ryan Bader. Bader is currently undefeated in thirteen professional appearances, while Jones’ only loss was the result of landing an ultimately meaningless illegal elbow in the process of pounding Matt Hamill out last December and being disqualified. Both are coming off impressive victories, albeit of a different variety. Bader out-pointed Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 119 in September, while Jones has back-to-back first round TKOs over Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko since the disappointing “DQ” defeat to Hamill.