Anderson Silva Over Vitor Belfort: UFC 129 Picks
Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
Anderson Silva, easily the best striker in MMA, will face the best standup fighter in his career when he faces Vitor Belfort on Super Bowl Eve. Although Silva is a superior fighter on his feet, Vitor does present some concerns for him.
First, although it is well known that Vitor Belfort has two of the fastest hands in MMA, many elite fighters are still caught off guard by how fast he actually is. Seeing his speed on tape is one thing, but seeing his speed coming at you is something very different. Vitor has taken great advantage of this in many fights by aggressively attacking his opponent early before they can get acclimated to his speed.
Coupled with his hand speed, Belfort is one of the best fighters in MMA at finishing opponents once they are hurt. This combination has allowed “The Phenom” to secure first round knockouts vs. very good fighters such as Wanderlei Silva, Matt Lindland, and Rich Franklin.
Knowing Silva’s prowess on the feet, most fighters have engaged him cautiously. This is fine by Anderson, as he typically spends the first two minutes of a fight trying to pick up the timing and rhythm of his opponent by circling and not throwing many strikes.
In Silva’s last fight, Chael Sonnen has success striking against Anderson by aggressively perusing him. Silva was unable to get comfortable and was knocked down for the first time in his UFC career by Sonnen. Sonnen, a former Olympic wrestler, is a far from a high level striker, but his aggression allowed him to get the better of Silva.
To maximize Belfort’s chances to win, he should look to rush and swarm Silva from the opening bell. If Belfort does not do this or if Silva is able to withstanding and recover from an early assault, I would be shocked if Silva does not retain his title.
Silva may be more vulnerable when he’s not controlling the pace of a fight, but Silva is protected by his incredibly cardiovascular shape and his chin. Sonnen has great success pushing the pace against Anderson, but Sonnen is one of the best conditioned athletes in MMA. In round 3 of that fight, once Sonnen slowed down a slightly, Silva was able to compose himself and drop Sonnen with a standing elbow strike.
Belfort may try to steal Sonnen’s game plan and to try to use his wrestling and grappling (he’s a former ADCC champion) to control the fight or use it to set up standing strikes. This would be a mistake as Silva would pick him apart striking if Silva is allowed to get comfortable. Belfort has shown that although he starts fights fast, he’ll certainly slow down if someone withstands his initial salvo. In the last ten years, Belfort is 2-6 in fights that go beyond five minutes.
Expect Silva to survive an initial assault and retain his UFC title.
Rich Franklin vs. Forrest Griffin
Both of these very popular fighters need a win here to maintain hope of a UFC title run. Expect both fighters to stand and trade for all fifteen minutes, as both fights are extremely tough but neither posses a lot of knockout power.
Franklin, a southpaw, is accustomed to fighting conventional fighters, and Forrest has only fought one southpaw, Anderson Silva, in the UFC. This helps Franklin, especially considering the proclivity of both to throw kicks.
Look for Franklin to use his body kick and inside leg kick to control distance and pick apart Griffin’s sloppy boxing to win a decision.
Jon Jones vs Ryan Bader
This fight should be the co-main event as the winner here is on the fast tract to a light heavyweight title shot.
If one fight is able to secure a takedown and hold his opponent down for a substantial amount of time, he should win this fight. As wrestlers, both fighters are likely going to be quite uncomfortable on their back. Jones’ striking from on top has been incredibly dynamic and damaging that it would be very difficult for Bader to withstand that, recollect himself, and push through. If Bader were to hold Jones down for a prolonged period of time, it would likely allow Bader to take advantage of the only weakness we’ve seen so far in Jones, cardio issues in the later rounds.
Jones has some clear advantages if the fight stays standing. His 84.5 inch reach is the longest in the UFC, and his speed is shocking for someone his size. Jones is hardly a polished product and he makes some technical mistakes on his feet, but his physical gifts have been too good for anyone exploit his mistakes. Bader’s packs a lot of power in his punches. If he is able to capitalize on some of those technical flaws in Jones’ striking, Bader certainly knock Jones out.
If this fight becomes a war of attrition, I like Bader’s chances. I don’t see it going that way, so I expect Jones to continue to impress and secure a second round TKO.
The rest of this card should be very strong. The addition of the WEC’s featherweight and bantamweight divisions will make the undercards for UFC events much more entertaining. The UFC obviously believes this as they are showcasing two featherweights as the lead-in to the event on Spike TV. That fight, between Chad Mendes – Michihiro Omigawa, is an extremely high quality bout featuring top-15 featherweights.
Predictions for the rest of the card:
-Former WEC Bantamweight champion Miguel Torres should get his first UFC win vs. Antonio Banuelos.
-Jake Ellenberger will use his strength to wear down and defeat BJJ ace Carlos Rocha.
-Paul Kelly will be too much former WEC LW title contender Donald Cerrone, in a strong Fight of the Night candidate.
-Paul Taylor should put hands on and defeat Gabe Ruediger.
-Japanese superstar Norifumi “Kid” Yamaoto’s UFC debut vs. Demetrious Johnson will likely make it the main broadcast
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