COMMENTARY | On January 19, 2013, at UFC on FX 7, middleweights Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping will do battle in the octagon. The following highlights some key points to success for both combatants.
Michael Bisping: The middleweight title hopeful fought brilliantly against the "All-American" Brian Stann at UFC 152. During the bout, Bisping conformed to the "stick and move" style of fighting. He also incorporated some wrestling, which brought down Stann several times during the match-up. Mainly, however, Bisping's "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" strategy ultimately earned him the win over the formidable opponent that is Stann.
In his bout against Belfort, it would behoove Bisping to implement the same game plan. Moving quickly in and out of the pocket, and setting up combinations, while avoiding the takedown would allow Bisping to capitalize on his speed and grind out a unanimous decision.
Vitor Belfort: The youngest heavyweight champion in UFC history sports heavy hands. Belfort has the ability to knockout any opponent he faces. Out of his 21 wins, 14 have come by way of knockout. Therefore, at UFC on FX 7, it would greatly serve the Brazilian to regularly tie up his opponent and use his power in the clinch to nullify the Englishman's speed.
Belfort, on the ground, possesses significant game. The Judo and Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt is more than capable of ending the bout quickly, irrespective of where the fight may lead. "The Phenom" may choose to smother and incorporate his high level ground game, instead of opting to trade blows with Bisping. Staying close and imposing constant pressure upon Bisping worked well for Chael Sonnen, who earned a unanimous victory over "The Count" at UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis. Therefore, if the Brazilian is able to successfully wrap Bisping up and suffocate his opponent with a technical ground game, a victory for Belfort may be all but inevitable.
Significance for Both Men: Bisping (23-4) has slowly moved up the title contention ladder throughout the years and has never fought for a UFC championship. Fighting at the peak of his career, the Englishman is confident that his skills will earn him the victory and elevate his status to new heights. In fact, in a recent interview, Bisping made some disparaging remarks about his opponent:
"I trained hard, I'm the best I've ever been, I'm in shape right now, I can go 5x5 standing on my head. I don't think Vitor Belfort can do the same thing and after round one he's gonna be a walking punching bag and it's gonna be an easy night for 'The Count.' Booyah! He has the body of a lion but the legs of a chicken. He also has the heart of a chicken."
In addition to his heightened sense of confidence, if Bisping secures the win at UFC on FX 7, he has been guaranteed a title shot against current middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Belfort, however, recently stated that has no desire to be treated as a stepping stone .
"I don't care. It doesn't change anything in my life my friend. God is my provider and I have a fight and I'm winning. That's the only thing I know, I'm winning. I already told Dana (White - UFC president), choose another guy to face Anderson because he's not going to get passed (sic) through me. That's the bottom line."
In the end, a victory for Bisping on January 19 is pivotal. If Bisping loses this particular bout, his opportunities of challenging for the title again in the near future will be stifled. This is due to the current "journeyman" status that looms over his current opponent.
Although Belfort is 7-3 in his last 10 fights, in that, his most memorable wins have been against other fellow journeymen (Anthony Johnson, Yoshiro Akiyama, Matt Linland), or those contemplating retirement (Rich Franklin).
More than that, in less than two years, Belfort has challenged for and lost two championship title bouts in two different weight classes. At the age of 35, accompanied by his recent losses in championship fights, Belfort (21-10) may never challenge for a title again.
At UFC on FX 7, Bisping, however, fights in his opponent's home country of Brazil. If the Englishman is able to become the first person to defeat Belfort in his native land, a title shot and Anderson Silva will await him. If he fails, however, securing another championship opportunity in the near future (considering the incoming Strikeforce imports) will be all the more difficult.Clinton Alexander Bullock has been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in the Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, Next Step Magazine, and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @clintonbullock.
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