At UFC 103, the UFC will welcome back one of its most exciting fighters, Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort.
On July 31, UFC President Dana White announced that the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion will be facing former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich "Ace" Franklin in the 205 division.
With the UFC and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) world rising at a meteoric pace, why not bring in a fighter that is not just a veteran, but a veteran that is still young and very dangerous?
Belfort burst onto the scene at UFC 12 when he walked right through the crafty fighter Scott Ferrozzo in just 43 seconds of the first round. That very same night, he blasted through a very tough Tra Telligman in 77 seconds in the first round.
Three months later, he took on one of the strongest and most controversial fighters in MMA history in Tank Abbott. Belfort knocked him out in 53 seconds, once again in the first round. That was in 1997. Belfort was barely 20 years old.
Now take a fighter like that and give him experience, knowledge, seven more knockout victories (most of them in the first round), including former PRIDE Champion Wanderlei Silva, and what do you get? You get a fighter that is very, very talented and a fighter that is very, very hungry.
This guy, when focused, has all the tools to beat the best of the best.
Personally, when I heard that many people say that this kid has one of the fastest, if not the fastest, punching speeds in the world, I thought it was bullsh*t. After sparring with him and watching him train and fight, I couldn't have been more wrong. Not only is his striking fast, it is wickedly accurate, and it hurts! It is like getting shot by a sniper rifle with the speed of an Uzi. Each strike is a kill shot.
It will be very interesting to see how Rich Franklin will hang with "The Phenom." Will the former UFC Middleweight Champion dare strike with him? Or will he want to go to the ground with someone who has an excellent and very underrated ground game (he's from Brazil, where an excellent ground game is a way of life)?
You can never shrug off Franklin, though. He is one of the best fighters in the UFC. Before the arrival of a juggernaut named Anderson Silva, Franklin was considered one of the most dominant fighters in all of MMA.
With an unorthodox style of striking, Franklin loves to keep the fight standing, but he does not mind going to the ground at all. His cardio is known to be unparalleled, and he seems to be finding his niche in the Light Heavyweight division. All of those skills will be pushed to their limit at UFC 103.
After all of these years, you figured someone who has been competing at an MMA level would lose some step. Nope. Earlier this year, Belfort knocked out Matt Lindland in the now-bankrupt Affliction organization. That match also ended in the first round.
It's very clear and very safe to say that "The Phenom" is back.
Well, those are my thoughts; now I'd like to hear yours. Will Vitor bring back the dominance that he once had when he first came into the UFC? Or will Franklin give him an unwelcome greeting back in the octagon?
Until then, this is Balistik signing out.
"MMA ALL THE WAY!!"