UFC 175: Chael Sonnen vs. Vitor Belfort Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Wanderlei Silva was forced Wednesday to pull out of his fight (per Brazilian site Combate via Matt Erickson of MMAJunkie.com) with Chael Sonnen. Instead of Sonnen facing off against Silva, he will instead get to fight Vitor Belfort.
Belfort stepped up, passed all his exams and is now scheduled to face Sonnen at UFC 175.
People were excited for Sonnen vs. Silva, but many expected Chael to pull out the win. In this one, fans will be split on who's going to come out on top.
Let's take a look at whether Sonnen or Belfort has the edge in the fight.
Nobody's going to be surprised that Belfort holds the edge in striking.
Of Vitor's 24 career wins, 17 have come by some form of (T)KO. That's a lot of knockouts. Recently, Belfort has knocked out three straight opponents with kicks to the head. He also earned Knockout of the Night for each one.
Now that's impressive.
Sonnen is by no means a bad striker—he just isn't nearly as good as Belfort.
Both fighters have strong grappling credentials.
Belfort is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a black belt in judo. He doesn't frequently fight on the ground, but he has proven to be more than capable there as his win over Anthony Johnson and near-submission of Jon Jones will show.
Sonnen is a grappler by trade, and he boasts some outstanding wrestling. Everybody is familiar with Sonnen's fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 117, where Sonnen was able to take down and beat up Silva with ease.
If Sonnen wants to put this fight on the ground, chances are he will.
Neither fighter depends greatly on submissions. Sonnen has won four fights in his career with submission holds, and Belfort has won three.
However, Sonnen has used submissions more as of late, winning two fights with them since 2011. His most recent submission win came over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC Fight Night 26. Sonnen earned the win with a guillotine choke in the first round.
Belfort's last submission win came over Anthony Johnson at UFC 142 with a rear-naked choke. Belfort's next fight came against Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, and he almost submitted Jones with a deep armbar in the first round.
Sonnen has shown some trouble defending submissions in the past, but I wouldn't expect that to be an issue for him anymore. I don't think either fighter will have a huge edge here.
Sonnen: Chael has wanted a chance to face Vitor Belfort for years. He's been talking trash about him for years, and he finally has a chance to fight the Brazilian. He will be superdriven for this fight, possibly even moreso than he was for his fight with Silva. The only thing that is going to matter to Chael in this fight is getting Belfort on the ground and beating him up.
Belfort: Vitor is a very emotional fighter, and that usually helps him out. However, in this fight, he is going to have a lot of pent-up anger towards Sonnen. If he gets overeager, he could find himself planted on his back in this fight. He'll need to keep his emotions in check.
Both: Neither fighter will be using testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in this fight, and there's no way to know how it could affect them. Chael has said that he might have to retire now that TRT is banned, and Belfort was forced to drop out of a fight for the middleweight title. This is the biggest X-factor in the fight, and there's no way to know how it will affect either fighter.
Vitor Belfort may have the edge in striking, but Chael Sonnen is more than capable of winning this fight in any other manner.
Sonnen has his work cut out for him in this one, but he has a clear path to victory. He must avoid Belfort's swarms, get the fight to the ground and be careful in Belfort's guard.
If Sonnen does that, he should be able to beat up Belfort and earn a TKO or get the decision.
Prediction: Chael Sonnen wins by unanimous decision