UFC on FX 7: Keys to Victory for Vitor Belfort
The bout is a well-matched affair, made all the more intriguing by the strong title implications attached. There is a lot on the line for both competitors, and both will be looking to enforce their game plan inside the Octagon.
Over the next four slides, we'll take a closer look at what "The Phenom" must do if he hopes to lock down a W in Sao Paulo this weekend.
Be Aggressive, Move Forward, Throw Straight Punches in Bunches
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The common ingredient of Belfort's best performances is aggression. Specifically, letting his hands go in flurries while moving towards his opponent.
The Brazilian wields some of the quickest hands in the middleweight division. When he's bolting forward, launching combinations right down the pipe, it's difficult for anyone to withstand. Bisping typically does well keeping his composure, but composed or not, the Belfort Blitzkrieg is something few fighters can survive.
The last thing Belfort wants to do on the feet is get into a methodical boxing match where he and Bisping exchange jabs and occasional power-punches. That's what Bisping wants because it negates Belfort's speed and power advantages.
If that's the kind of fight Belfort ends up falling into, he probably won't leave the Octagon a winner. If, however, he attacks in explosive spurts of straight punches, he may just stop the Brit.
Be Wary of the Takedown
Bisping puts Stann down during their UFC 152 bout
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The weapon of choice for Bisping might be his boxing, but he showed a wrinkle to his game by repeatedly taking down Brian Stann at UFC 152.
If the Brit was pleased with what his wrestling game did for him last time out—and he should be—then he might enter Saturday night's contest with the intentions of utilizing it once more.
That is something Belfort has to be aware of.
Takedowns were the difference for Bisping at UFC 152, and if Belfort is unable to stay upright, then they will be again at UFC on FX 7.
Belfort is, of course, an able grappler, but Bisping has very solid submission defense. This means the Brazilian likely won't mount too much offense off his back.
It's very much in "The Phenom's" interest to keep the action on the feet.
Prepare for a 15-Minute Fight
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Belfort's fights don't often go the distance, but Bisping's sometimes do. If Belfort goes out, explodes in the first round and Bisping is still standing, he'll have to be able to keep doing it again and again.
Look back to Belfort's most recent contest—a UFC 152 loss to Jon Jones. After nearly pulling off an upset for the ages in the bout's opening moments, Belfort more or less lulled around cage waiting for the inevitable to happen. He even pulled guard in favor of attempting to break through Jones' range.
That wasn't exactly a one-time occurrence, either. Indeed, Belfort has a bad habit of becoming complacent if he's unable to score a finish early on.
Cooling off after an early onslaught is not something he can afford to do at UFC on FX 7. Bisping is a resilient fighter with good head movement. The chances are that Belfort will need to launch more than one blitz to end things.
That means he'll have to keep coming, even if his persistence takes 15 minutes to pay dividends.
Focus on Bisping, Not the Middleweight Title Picture
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It's trite to say, but Belfort—both fighters, actually—have to focus on the task at hand.
The Brazilian isn't terribly far from another crack at Anderson Silva's middleweight crown. However, if he's thinking Silva when he should be thinking Bisping, Saturday is going to be a bad night.
It's vital that Belfort approach the contest with tunnel vision and let the chips fall where they may.
Entering the contest, he has to know that a win probably won't clinch him a title fight and he cannot be obsessed with putting on the type of performance he feels might change that. Nor can he be frustrated by the fact and let it diminish the importance of the result in his mind.
Even if it won't land him a title match, a victory over Bisping will do big things for Belfort's career. "The Phenom" must realize this and rise to the occasion.