The UFC’s 153 card, scheduled for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 13th, has added a Middleweight fight between Vitor Belfort and Alan Belcher to the main card. Belfort has not fought since January, and is making a comeback from a broken hand he broke coaching on the UFC’s Brazil ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ show, while Belcher is riding a four fight winning streak and is coming off his most impressive win in taking out Rousimar Palhares.
This is a tall order for Belcher, and I expect Belfort to open a considerable favorite when the lines start to hit the sportsbooks. Belcher however, is going to have a few ways to win this fight – as talented as Belfort is, there are a few holes in his game that are not going to change this late in his career, and they play into some of Belcher’s strengths.
The trick to beating Befort remains the same, – avoid the initial rush and turn it into a long grinding fight.
In his last outing, Belcher went right at a leg lock ‘specialist’ and survived a flurry of submission attempts with good ground work. He piled up his points with good positioning and punching on the ground before taking Palhares out.
For all of Belfort’s vaunted ground game, he really has very few submissions in his MMA career, and Belcher should consider fighting this fight on the ground.
But it is a big jump up in talent compared to Belcher’s recent competition. And Belcher’s losses usually come up when he is taking on stiffer opponents, such as his losses to Okami and Akiyama. He does need to be careful for Belfort’s flurry, for it will be very different than Palhares, who attacked his legs. Belfort’s flurry is usually fistic, and it comes fast and furious.
Belfort at times has a way of applying needless pressure on himself, but he is mature enough at this point to channel it properly as well. I think the home field advantage will be a big positive for Belfort, in terms of crowd support – to the point where I am going to pick Belfort to win this fight.
If Belcher breaks through, he will join a crowded pack of 2nd tier contenders in the Middleweight division that includes Yushin Okami, the fallen Chael Sonnen, Tim Boetsch and Michael Bisping. Should Belfort win, a rematch with Anderson Silva is not out of the question, especially to headline a future show in the burgeoning Brazilian market.