Perhaps no submission specialist in the UFC is more feared than Rousimar Palhares.
No matter what the middleweight elite seem to do, few people can seem to avoid falling into one of "Toquinho's" devastating heel hooks or kneebars. It's not just the knowledge that the submission is coming, but also the damage that follows. Some fighters will give you a chance to tap out before fully locking in a submission—Palhares, on the other hand, has far less self-restraint, and could very easily rip off your ankles if you don't give up quickly.
Going into tonight's main event at UFC on FOX 3, the question in this match-up is whether Alan Belcher can use his size, reach, and wrestling to avoid a seemingly inevitable submission loss. While not as freakishly dangerous on the ground as Palhares, Belcher also sports a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Paired with solid ground-and-pound skills and a decent toolbox of his own submission moves, Belcher could make this a closer fight than most people are giving him credit for.
Since it's never too late for another fight prediction, I ran a 25-fight simulation on this bout in UFC Undisputed 3 to see how the two fighters match-up in THQ and Yuke's video game. Unlike the Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller test run, the results here were much more one-sided. Although every match made it out of the first round, Palhares decisively won the fair share of the fights.
- 17 wins (13 via Unanimous Decision, 3 via Submission, 1 via TKO)
- Out of Palhares' 74 submission attempts, there were seven heel hooks and 23 kneebars
- Over 25 three-round fights, Palhares successfully scored 99 out of 238 takedowns
Is Alan Belcher losing a leg tonight?
- 8 wins (6 via Unanimous Decision, 1 via Majority Decision, 1 via TKO)
- Belcher only landed 2 out 11 takedowns in nine fights
- Belcher only attempted a submission once in 72 rounds
- Every fight went past the first round
- Belcher out-struck Palhares in almost every fight
- Only three fights ended via Submission
It seems that even in UFC Undisputed 3, Alan Belcher doesn't stand much of a chance against Rousimar Palhares' brute strength. In the rare occasions he did win, Belcher was able to use stand-up and sprawling to out-box Palhares. Staying away from the ground is key if he wants to win.
The Bottom Line:
Although Palhares is a beastly challenge, winning isn't impossible for Belcher, and judging by the data, he's likely to escape with his legs intact. However, I wouldn't bet on it. Palhares seems like a lock to win by hook or crook, and the real betting money should be on whether Belcher can make it out of the Octagon without limping.
(About the Data:)
- Each match set between two CPU-controlled fighters
- Simulated 25 total fights
- Each fight set at three rounds
- CPU difficulty set to "Ultimate"
- Game rules set to "Competition"
- Energy settings set to "Simulation"
[McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and former writer for GamePro, PC World and Macworld. Follow his Twitter account for crazy talk, 1990s movie references, and general weirdness. Or you could just stalk him on Google.]