Though the UFC revealed earlier today that Vitor Belfort had withdrawn from UFC 139 due to injury, it appears former Strikeforce middleweight champ Cung Le will still face a hard-hitting Brazilian on November 19 in his Zuffa debut – Wanderlei Silva.
UFC President Dana White announced the switch earlier today through Twitter with Belfort following up on his account to state he planned on being healthy enough to fight before the end of 2011.
The 39-year old Le has been out of action since June 2010 due to a number of film projects he was involved with but recently expressed interest in competing at UFC 139 based on the event taking place in his backyard of San Jose. A master of multi-tiered striking, Le transitioned from a legendary run in San Shou kickboxing to a 7-1 career in MMA with all of his victories involving TKO stoppages.
Silva has only fought once in the same span, and only three times in the last three years, but remains of the Mixed Martial Arts’ legitimate icons due to his aggressive style and success in Japan under the PRIDE banner. He holds an overall record of 33-11-1 with past wins over Keith Jardine, Michael Bisping, and Quinton Jackson (twice).
UFC 139 is headlined by Dan Henderson’s return to the Octagon where he’ll face Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and will also feature Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story as well as Brian Bowles vs. Urijah Faber.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC
MMATraining Take: It would’ve been hard for the UFC to find as perfect a replacement for Belfort as “The Axe Murderer” is. Silva lives and dies by his stand-up, as does Le, and has enough name value to make the fight appealing to casual fans too even if they aren’t familiar with Le’s credentials.