Although Vitor Belfort has historically folded whenever being in a position to take hold of a division, a victory over one of the sport's best in Silva could finally make that realization possible. That being said, there are concerns.
Belfort hasn't competed in almost 17 months and ring rust will undoubtedly be an issue. I also worry about him being able to maintain a competitive pace in the championship rounds after moving down 20 pounds to the middleweight division. Belfort reportedly had a difficult time even making the 195 pound catchweight fight with Rich Franklin at UFC 103. Hopefully his recent work with weight cutting guru and nutritionist Mike Dolce can help quell those concerns. He looked great yesterday at weigh-ins.
After an embarrassing display at UFC 112 against Demian Maia, fans turned on Anderson Silva in droves. Spectators even booed the UFC's longest tenured champion as they cheered for Belfort yesterday at the weigh ins. Not much love for Anderson, but a great deal for someone who has only stepped into the octagon once in the last five years. Silva is easily the most despised current UFC champion and many MMA fans will order this fight just hoping to witness Silva being dethroned firsthand.
This fight should be interesting as Silva is fighting someone who is extremely dangerous in every facet. Belfort's moniker as 'the Phenom' has endeared him to diehards who remember his record-breaking knockouts, but people need to remember how strong a top game jiu jitsu player he still is. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes a page out of Chael Sonnen's book and tries to keep Silva working off his back for five rounds. If Sonnen can make Silva look as bad as he did with that strategy, Belfort can, too.
Silva takes this fight if he can keep it standing. If he can stifle takedowns for the first three rounds, he can open up a bit more in rounds four and five. He needs to keep Vitor moving and exchanging, tiring him out. Belfort tweeted fans yesterday that he cut 30 pounds for this fight, so Silva is really going to work on keeping him from resting in his guard. I know Belfort has the power to end this fight with one punch, but I just don't see him being able to land clean on Silva. Anderson better be on his game, though.