With Vitor Belfort's destruction of Rich Franklin at UFC 103 he has positioned himself for a possible shot at UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. With the current state of the division, it is very likely we could see this matchup sooner rather than later.
Silva has already stated his displeasure with the idea of potential rematches with Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt, and the UFC will likely not want to keep the middleweight belt on the shelf so that "The Spider" can embarrass another top 10 light heavyweight.
The scenario that is likely to play out will be a match between Henderson and Marquardt while Belfort will get the fast track to the Spider.
Belfort's hand speed and KO power is enough to make him a dangerous opponent for anyone. Add to that his black belt in BJJ, which he received from Carlson Gracie, and his devastating knee strikes, and you have a very formidable, well-rounded opponent.
Can Belfort be the man to knockoff current the pound-for-pound kingpin?
The quick answer, of course, would be no.
Silva has shown that he has the ability to make good fighters look like amateurs. The Spider strikes with stunning precision while eluding the attacks of his opponents. Silva is a master at taking a fighter out of their game plan and forcing them to press and come forward.
At first glance, Belfort would seem to play right into the hands of Silva. His forward-moving, stand-and-bang mentality is tailor-made for a signature Silva knockout. But that may not be the case at all.
Belfort is more than just your average MMA striker. He is a very sound boxer with good footwork, improved head movement, and explosive power. While Belfort may swing wild at times, he does a good job not abandoning his defenses.
When this fight does take place Silva will be in store for something that he's yet to face inside the Octagon—a phenom.
Belfort's hand speed is unlike anything Silva has seen in his MMA career. What Belfort lacks in precision he more that makes up for in devastating power. A glancing blow from Belfort is more than enough to take out even the most seasoned of MMA veterans.
What I like about this potential matchup is the striking similarities between the two fighters. Both are technical boxers, both have great Muay Thai, both are BJJ black bets, and both can end a fight in the blink of an eye.
Common sense tells me that Belfort will be no different than anyone who has stepped inside the Octagon with Silva and would suffer a similar fate.
But I am not one to listen to common sense when it comes to MMA because anything can happen once that cage door closes.
Belfort provides the right mix of skills, tenacity, and power to put an end to Silva's reign atop the UFC middleweight division.
If and when these two step inside that cage, we all can expect one thing—a devastating, highlight-reel KO.