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UFC rewrites middleweight script after Sonnen's positive test

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The Canadian Press
9/22/2010 4:46:50 PM
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TORONTO -- The ripple effect of Chael Sonnen's positive drug test started making itself felt Wednesday as the UFC pulled apart one main event to repair another.

With Sonnen facing a one-year suspension pending a possible appeal, a rematch with middleweight champion Anderson Silva is off the table.

So the UFC pulled Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort from the main event of UFC 122 in November to free him up to take on Silva in place of Sonnen.

Nate (The Great) Marquardt will replace Belfort at UFC 122 and take on Japan's Yushin (Thunder) Okami on Nov. 13 in Oberhausen, Germany, to determine who is on deck in the 185-pound contenders' circle.

"Vitor is not injured," UFC president Dana White tweeted. "He is going to fight anderson for the title and the winner of marquart and okami are next."

In a tweet, Belfort said he will fight Silva in Las Vegas. A source said Jan. 1 is the likely date.

Marquardt (33-9-2) is coming off a first-round TKO over Rousimar Palhares last week.

Okami (26-5) has won nine of 11 in the UFC, most recently taking a split decision over Mark Munoz.

The change in main event comes the day tickets went on sale to the general public. The card is the first in Germany since the UFC debuted there last June with UFC 99.

Sonnen tested positive on the eve of his UFC 117 fight with Silva on Aug. 7.

The California State Athletic Commission says his test showed a high testosterone-to-estrogen level "which is indicative of anabolic steroid use."

A second sample produced the same result.

"The use of anabolic steroids and other banned substances are not tolerated by the commission," commission executive officer George Dodd said in a statement. "Anabolic agents put the health and safety of both the user and his opponents at risk."

Silva, considered perhaps the best pound-for-pound fighter in mixed martial arts, was 11-0 in the UFC and considered a 7-1 favourite going into the fight against Sonnen in Oakland.

But Sonnen, a former U.S. Olympic wrestling team alternate, dominated the champion for four rounds before a desperate Silva caught him in a triangle choke with less than two minutes remaining.

Nate Marquardt (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)

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