Jon Jones to fight Vitor Belfort

Updated: August 24, 2012, 1:55 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort has accepted an offer to fight current titleholder Jon Jones on Sept. 22 in Toronto, Zuffa LLC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta told ESPN.com on Friday.

Belfort was UFC's third option after former 205-pound champions Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua turned down a chance to face Jones with about four weeks remaining before the fight.

"Yes, Machida and 'Shogun' passed," Fertitta said. "Thank God for old-school real fighters."

For the first time in the 11 years since Fertitta and president Dana White (who also confirmed the fight with ESPN.com) took control of UFC, the promotion was forced to cancel a card Thursday when Jones turned down a fight with former middleweight top contender Chael Sonnen.

Jones, who has wins over Machida and Rua, was slated to fight Dan Henderson on Sept. 1 at UFC 151 in Las Vegas. But Henderson was forced to pull out due to injury, and Jones refused to fight Sonnen on eight days' notice.

Belfort (21-9) was scheduled to fight Alan Belcher on Oct. 13 at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro.

He claimed the UFC light heavyweight title Jan. 31, 2004, with a first-round TKO of Randy Couture. But Belfort relinquished the title to Couture in an immediate rematch Aug. 21, 2004. Couture defeated him by third-round TKO.

Jones (16-1) won the title March 19, 2011, with a third-round TKO of Rua.

He submitted Machida in the second round of their Dec. 10, 2011, fight in Toronto.

Jones recently told ESPN.com that he did not want to fight Machida in a rematch because of low pay-per-view numbers the two generated in their previous fight.

"I don't want to fight Lyoto Machida," Jones said. "He was my lowest pay-per-view draw of last year. No one wants to see me fight Lyoto Machida. I don't want to fight Lyoto again. Lyoto is high-risk and low-reward."

Zuffa LLC is the parent company of UFC and Strikeforce.

MMAfighting.com earlier reported the Jones-Belfort fight.

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