UFC 126: Silva v. Belfort – Who ya got?!

Guest Article By: The LP Show

First and foremost, I have to give a special thanks to the gentlemen of 2524 for allowing me to write this article.  This blog provides an excellent forum for intelligent sports discussion, and I feel honored writing for it.

Superbowl Sunday is around the corner but I’ll be saving my beer and hot wings for the much anticipated Middleweight bout between Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort, and defending UFC Champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva this Saturday!

What MMA fans should expect:

It’s a given fact that Belfort has an incredible boxing background.  He is the youngest guy to ever win inside the UFC at age 19, which he did by technical knockout.  Every fight he has won by stoppage in the last five years has been by early round knockouts.  However, Vitor has never fought a 5 round fight in his entire career!  Silva has plenty of 5 round as well as 3+ round fights under his belt.  It seems as if Vitor is going to have to end this fight early if he does not want exhaustion to play a role against him.  With that said, Silva can confidently be considered one of the most dangerous counter-strikers in MMA.  He on the other hand is going to wait out his opponent a bit, allow Vitor to take the first initiative and react accordingly.  Simply put, Silva likes to play with his food! (Recall: UFC 112 against Demian Maia).  Given Vitor’s history of active aggression early in the fight and Silva’s passive aggression, we have ourselves quite a match up as both fighters’ styles complement each other.

The key to victory in this fight is adaptation, and to Silva goes the advantage on this one.  Silva has been fighting consistently over the last five years in the UFC and has defended his title 7 times. (Set the UFC record with this by the way).  Vitor hasn’t fought any matches what-so-ever for almost a year and half, not to mention he hasn’t fought in the UFC (which, with the exception of Fedor and Nick Diaz, has overall signed some of the best fighters in the sport) for several years prior to his one and only UFC match in 2009.  Silva’s experience in the UFC has given him the knowledge on how to adapt properly to his opponents.  Recall how Silva knew both previous title match contenders Chael Sonnen and Demain Maia were going to try and win by takedown and submission, and had adapted according by attempting to keep the fight standing for as long as possible.

It goes without saying that Silva knows Vitor’s game plan: to KO Silva in the first 2-3 rounds.  Anderson is going to have to fight from the distance, throw jabs, some high kicks, basically anything to avoid the clinch and be subject to Belfort’s swift hooks, uppercuts, and overall superb boxing skills.  Anderson Silva is primarily known for his Muay Thai, which does incorporate many more long range attacks then does Vitor’s boxing.  If Belfort has any chance in winning this fight, he must take into account how Silva views Belfort’s skills and how he is planning to use this very strategy against him, and then READAPT.  That’s right!  Belfort’s strategy must now be to take his time and choose the right spots to strike, and close the distance with Silva to utilize his boxing based strikes.  Taking his time will also help preserve Vitor’s stamina.

To further favor Silva’s standing in this fight, Silva has a much better ground game then Vitor.  Silva has notable submission victories over Chael Sonnen (Triangle/Armbar), Dan Henderson (Rear Naked Choke), and Travis Lutter (Triangle Choke).  The problem with using Jiu Jitsu and winning by submission once again deals with the takedown.  Silva must avoid the clinch!  Avoiding close contact prevents all foot sweeps and throws to take the fight to the ground. Given that, unless Silva manages to knock Vitor down with a straight punch or kick, submission-based fighting will not be seen in this bout.  If Vitor gets unlucky and takes a blow that drops him, Silva will stop the fight there on the floor with Jiu Jitsu (or ground and pound if the opportunity presents itself).

With everything said, the fight will go to Silva by unanimous decision. Silva wants to take the fight into the later rounds in hopes of gassing Vitor out and will fight with space in between.  Vitor is hopefully none the wiser to his strategy and will conserve his energy, pick the right spots to attack, and hope to engage in close encounter.

Just for kicks, I thought I would write a quick statement about the implications of a Vitor Victory. If “The Phenom” takes this one down, rest assured that Georges St. Pierre will be CONSIDERED THE NUMBER 1 POUND FOR POUND FIGHTER in Mixed Martial Arts today without argument. Hey Jake Shields! I know what you’re thinking! You know, with UFC 129 coming up soon and all?

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