The UFC is in the process of finalizing their schedule for the rest of 2013, and those plans apparently include a return to Brazil for a event in the fall that will feature Middleweights Tim Kennedy and Vitor Belfort. Belfort has rejuvenated his career fighting as a headliner in his home country and winning his last two fights with spectacular KO’s of opponents with title aspirations. Kennedy is also the winner of two fights in a row, including a UD win over Roger Gracie in his UFC debut, but expect Kennedy to come in as an underdog for this bout.
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There are few strikers more dangerous than Vitor Belfort, but a look at Kennedy’s record tell us he has faced off with and beaten top strikers Robbie Lawler and Melvin Manhoef, both of whom like Belfort, will take your head off. So Kennedy has experience and experienced success against big time strikers.
But what can Kennedy do to hurt Belfort, or at least look offensive enough to win points with the judges? Kennedy has gone a full 5 rounds on two separate occasions, and as is always the case with Belfort, Kennedy will be most at risk in the opening round.
Kennedy would be ill advised to go for a takedown right off the bat, but that plays into Belfort’s strength. A cautious boxing game where he tries to outwork Vitor is a bad strategy over the course of the fight, but it may be his best chance in the opening round or two. The playbook on Belfort goes that if a fighter can survive his initial onslaught, he gets frustrated.
The problem fo r Kennedy is that in his last few outing Belfort has been very efficient and gotten his opponents out of there. Even in his loss to Jon Jones, Belfort had his moments early, and he made Jones work into the 4th round before succumbing. With all due respect to Tim Kennedy, he is no Jon Jones. Jones is going to have a tough time getting Belfort into a ‘Tim Kennedy’ type of fight.
On top of that, he will be fighting in Brazil, and though the former ranger Kennedy may be uniquely qualified to operate in hostile environments, he is also facing a fighter who really does benefit and draw from the crowd. Belfort will be a solid favorite going into this fight.