UFC 133 Fight Card: In-Depth Analysis of Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama

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UFC 133 Fight Card: In-Depth Analysis of Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
Yoshihiro Akiyama versus Vitor Belfort

The co-main event live from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at UFC 133 features a middleweight matchup between former UFC light heavyweight champion "The Phenom" Vitor Belfort and the Japanese sensation Yoshihiro "Sexyama" Akiyama.

Belfort's legendary hand-speed was on display when he first entered the famed Octagon at UFC 12 in 1997.

Exhibiting lightening fast punches with knockout power, Belfort deservedly earned his nickname en route to the destruction of his two opponents awarding "The Phenom" the heavyweight tournament championship title.

Footage of Belfort's repeated strikes on a back-pedaling Wanderlei Silva at UFC Brazil in 1998 will grace highlight films for decades to come.

More recently, the resurgence of Belfort back in the UFC was on display as he earned Knockout of the Night honors at UFC 103 with a TKO victory over former UFC middleweight champion, Rich Franklin.

Looking to defeat Belfort this Saturday will be the underdog, Yoshihiro Akiyama. 

"Sexyama" is a tremendously talented Judo black belt with an overall MMA record of 13-3 with seven submission victories.

Who is victorious in this matchup?

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Reeling in the UFC with two subsequent defeats to Michael Bisping and Chris Leben, another loss for Akiyama may signify his departure from the sport's largest promotion.

Stylistically, Belfort has a sizable advantage in the striking department. "The Phenom" has 13 knockout victories during his illustrious career.

Additionally, well-known for his boxing prowess, Belfort is successful in landing 51 percent of his stand-up strikes.

Akiyama is aware of the threat that Belfort possesses on his feet. Blessed with an iron chin, "Sexyama" will need to stay out of the range of Belfort's punches and look for a take-down.

Successfully executing 80 percent of his take-down attempts in the UFC, Akiyama's strength is on the ground where he will minimize Belfort's advantage in the striking department and look for a submission.

Belfort is widely known for his talents on his feet. However, this Brazilian native possesses a black belt in jiu-jitsu and has been submitted only once during his 14-year career.

This matchup of UFC middleweights favors the Brazilian, Vitor Belfort. Dominant on his feet with thunderous strikes and pin-point accuracy, Akiyama will need to secure a take-down and keep this fight grounded for a chance at an upset victory in this co-main event.

In the end, I believe that Belfort's overall skill-set will expose Akiyama's deficiencies in his stand-up game.

"Sexyama" has a propensity to stand and trade in the center of the Octagon. His showmanship and willingness to excite the fans will be his downfall against the destructive strikes of "The Phenom."

Akiyama's saving grace is his solid chin. If not for that fortunate blessing, this co-main event matchup would end quicker than Charlie Sheen's stints in rehab.

Enjoy the fights.

Todd Seyler

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