The UFC returns on Saturday with its first event of 2013, UFC on FX 7.
As the opening fight card of the year, UFC on FX 7 will give many up-and-comers and championship hopefuls the chance to lay the groundwork for a huge 2013. At the same time, dreams could be temporarily shattered with a loss in the first month of a new calender year.
While the fight is also an important one for Belfort, the Brazilian likely wouldn't find himself in a rematch with middleweight champion Anderson Silva by beating Bisping, as he was stopped in the first round of his only meeting with the titleholder.
Bisping has been in search of a UFC title shot for six years, falling just short in losses to Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson. If he loses to Belfort on Saturday, Bisping would probably have to wait at least another year before getting another chance like the one he is getting in the UFC on FX 7 main event.
At 33 years old, Bisping is still in the prime of his career, but the glory years of an MMA fighter do not last long. With all the up-and-coming talent in the 185-pound division, another year may end up being too long of a wait for Bisping.
In order to avoid a deflating loss, Bisping will need to utilize his jab and leg kicks to stay away from Belfort's power. It also wouldn't hurt to mix in some takedown attempts to keep Belfort thinking twice about rushing forward.
Bisping might have the technique to out-strike Belfort, but the Brazilian has dangerous knockout power.
A single punch could demolish all the goals Bisping has set for 2013.